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€400m contract awarded for Scottish EfW project

An artist's impression of the NESS Energy Project
An artist's impression of the NESS Energy Project, slated to be fully operational by August 2022
Three Scottish councils have awarded a contract for the development of a joint energy-from-waste (EfW) facility in the northeast of the country.

Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray Council were awarded planning permission for the NESS Energy Project in 2016 and last week announced that the EfW contract, worth €400 million (£366.3 million), had been awarded to a consortium including renewables developer ACCIONA and EfW operator Indaver.

The facility, to be located at the East Tullos Industrial Estate in Aberdeen, will burn non-recyclable waste collected from the three local authorities to generate electricity – for sale to the national grid – and steam, which will be used to heat homes in the nearby area of Torry through the Torry Heat Network, a new project being run by Aberdeen City Council.

ACCIONA will be responsible for the development and construction of the facility, which, once fully operational in August 2022, will have a capacity of 150,000 tonnes of waste a year. Indaver, which manages facilities across Europe, has been handed a 20-year contract for operation and maintenance.

Indaver’s CEO Paul De Bruycker described the project as “an excellent example of the circular economy by providing Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray with a sustainable and energy efficient way to treating non-recyclable waste.” He added: “With NESS we will recover as many materials and as much energy as possible from the waste streams we treat, thus creating value from the waste.”

According to the consortium of councils, the NESS project has come about in response to Scotland’s upcoming ban on biodegradable waste to landfill, which will come into force in 2021 – meaning that many local authorities will need to quickly find new destinations for their waste.

On the NESS website, the three north-eastern councils have stated that they are also developing and implementing new recycling schemes and sorting facilities to divert more waste from landfill before the EfW plant becomes operational. However, they add that ‘despite the councils’ best efforts to reduce residual waste through minimisation campaigns, recycling, composting and use of other treatments, a substantial quantity of residual waste that is generated will still need to be collected and cannot be landfilled anymore.’

The Scottish Government hopes that banning biodegradable waste to landfill will boost recycling levels in line with the national target – 70 per cent recycling by 2025 – by forcing councils to extract more value from their waste before discarding it. In practice, according to a report by consultancy firm Eunomia, the ban could see more waste transferred across the border to be landfilled or incinerated in England in the short term, due to lack of residual waste treatment capacity in Scotland. Eunomia has predicted that if Scotland continues its current pattern of waste generation and recycling, its treatment capacity could fall short by 1.28 million tonnes in 2021.

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