By Thomas James, Welsh Section Chair
The Welsh Section’s visit to the Cardiff Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) in October was attended by 10 delegates and was enjoyed by all.
The site receives around 250 lorries of black bag waste every day from councils in the South Wales area. This waste is burned with electricity being generated from the steam and heat. The representatives of Viridor, which owns the facility, were very helpful in answering a large number of questions about the process from the group.
The process is very efficient and safe with emissions treated to meet the stringent European Waste Incineration Directive (WID), which is strictly enforced and monitored by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
The visit included a tour of the site control room, where one could see into the waste bunker and observe the grab cranes moving and mixing the waste before it is burned in the furnace at over 850°C.
The turbines produce up to 34MW of electricity, which is fed into the electricity grid. The heat generated by the facility can also be utilised locally, presenting opportunities for additional commercial development and improving resource efficiency.
In addition, the process produces bottom ash (the bulk of the remaining materials), which is recycled for use as aggregate material in the construction industry. The energy recovery process is well established and, when used alongside recycling, helps to meet landfill targets.
Energy recovery currently accounts for approximately 1.5 per cent of UK electricity supply and this could rise to six per cent of the UK total by 2020.