Blue is the colour
29th October 2014
Renewable energy: keeping it funder-friendly
30th October 2014

Indaver: delivering energy from waste

C Through a European network of processing facilities, Indaver is taking an innovative and successful approach to waste management.

The Indaver Group is a leading European waste management company with over 25 years of experience. Our core business is the management of smart waste management systems. We operate complex and innovative processing facilities such as hazardous and non-hazardous energy from waste plants, physico-chemical treatment and anaerobic digestion.

The strategy of the Indaver Group consists of two business services, namely Industrial and Hazardous Waste (IWS – Industrial Waste Services) and Household and Commercial Waste (MSW – Municipal Solid Waste), working with both the public and private sectors. In all areas, recovery of materials and energy in compliance with the strictest environmental standards is key.

Each year, Indaver produces enough energy from the thermal treatment of waste to supply power for around 240,000 households. We achieve this through our network of waste processing facilities in seven European countries. These, combined with strong data management systems, enable Indaver to provide flexibility to meet customers’ needs and full traceability from the point of collection to final disposal.

Indaver in Ireland: a success story

Indaver was established in Ireland to deliver high-quality and cost-effective services in the specialised market of hazardous and non-hazardous waste. It offers sustainable waste management solutions and is responsible for building and operating Ireland’s first municipal energy from waste (EfW) facility in County Meath, only 90 minutes from Belfast City off the M1.

The EfW facility completed its third successful year of operation in August 2014. It treats over 200,000 tonnes per year of non-recyclable waste and generates 18MW electricity from this waste which is enough to power the equivalent of 22,000 households.

Generating renewable energy

In many ways, energy from waste facilities operate like conventional power plants by using solid fuel to raise steam in a boiler which is converted to electricity. However, over 50 per cent of the electrical output of energy from waste plants in Ireland is renewable, as it is sourced from the biomass in residual waste such as textiles, non-recyclable cardboard and other waste streams.

Unlike conventional plants, this waste is also an important revenue source. However, it is complex to treat due to its heterogeneous nature. Energy from waste plants must be designed to handle potential fluctuations in fuel quality while meeting stringent emissions limits set out in the Industrial Emissions Directive.

This requires an extremely robust design of both the flue gas treatment system (which is typically the largest investment in the plant) and the use of specialised materials in the furnace and boiler system. It also involves carefully staged energy recovery, to facilitate controlled cooling of combustion gases. Because of these tight controls, and commercial drivers, waste-to-energy plants are designed to operate continuously with a high predictability of energy generation. The typical operating capacity factor for such a facility is over 93 per cent which is very high for a renewable plant.

C Benefits of using waste as a fuel

Energy from waste plants are both controllable and predictable generators. This enables energy from waste plants to provide essential support services to the electricity system that facilitate other renewable plants, such as wind farms, to operate in the system. Indaver’s facility is believed to be the first energy from waste plant in Europe to meet the stringent criteria set out by the transmission operator to manage the transmission system on the island of Ireland, which is designed to facilitate increasing penetration of wind.

Energy from waste uses an indigenous energy source and improves fuel diversity. Residual waste is increasingly valued for its low cost energy content (i.e. to power district heating systems) and as a result, this indigenous energy resource is now being exported from Ireland to northern Europe.

Energy from waste plants operate in the electricity market as price taking generators. This contributes to a lower average energy price, enabling consumers to benefit twofold – from both reduced energy prices and from the provision of efficient waste treatment services.

Leading the field

At the time that Indaver’s facility entered the electricity market it was the only plant of its kind in the system. The rules for its treatment as a renewable facility with priority in the system had not been set out and the partly renewable nature of the output (as a ‘hybrid’ plant) added a layer of complexity to any potential energy tariff offtake agreement.

It was therefore decided to enter the market as a price taking generator using the “supplier light” model, whereby an in-house supply company was established. While this added to the complexity of the electricity licensing process, this model has been successful in facilitating greater flexibility in operations for the plant and enabling the plant to benefit from upside in the electricity market rather than operate within the confines of a long-term power purchase agreement contract.

In the future, we are exploring ways by which to provide further support services to the electricity system as the penetration of wind in the system expands. We are also investigating more innovative ways by which to optimise energy use from the plant, through potential heat offtake (particularly in relation to Indaver’s proposed facility for the Cork region) and storage.

Closing the loop

The way in which we manage waste plays an important role in achieving a circular economy. As a result of our integral vision on waste management, the company contributes to a society in which materials form a sustainable, closed cycle: a circular economy. Each year, Indaver manages more than 5 million tonnes of waste, the majority of which is either recovered as energy or recycled. For Indaver, waste is a valuable raw material.

We are continuously seeking even better ways of to recover waste. We focus on which components or molecules in the waste stream are sufficiently valuable to be recovered in a safe and economically feasible way. We are also working on increasing our energy production by expanding our waste-to-energy capacity and by investing in increasing the level of recovery and recycling from residual waste.

The Indaver Group at a glance

Leading the field 5,149,624 tonnes of waste managed
People are our strength 1,665 employees across the group
Recovery a priority 762,658 tonnes of materials recovered
Sustainable energy Energy recovery for 240,000 households (equivalent)
Knowledge and expertise 51,171 hours of training provided for staff

thumb-large-20 For further information, contact:
Colin O’Hanlon
Tel: +44 7503 410376 / +353 41 213 4045