Frequently Asked Questions

1. Introduction and Background

A: Agile Energy Recovery (Inverurie) Limited is developing a low carbon energy park in Thainstone near Inverurie in North East Scotland. The catalyst is an Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) power plant that, subject to planning, is due to come online in 2022. Our directors are from Aberdeenshire and the North East of Scotland and come from a varied background in engineering, project development and management, waste management and technology.

A: The Waste (Scotland) Regulations were passed by the Scottish Parliament in May 2012, with the express intention of implementing the requirements of the Zero Waste Plan. The plan includes a ban on the landfilling of food, paper, garden and any other biodegradable waste before the 1st January 2021. This ban was recently extended to 2025 to allow both the public and private sectors additional time to prepare further initiatives and develop infrastructure to achieve this. It has been estimated that 1.2 million tonnes of residual waste will have to be landfilled, managed or exported outside of Scotland if new projects do not come onstream by 2025. In order to make up this shortfall, it will be necessary to develop more residual waste facilities within Scotland, including the one proposed at the Thainstone Energy Park.

A: The catalyst for the Thainstone Energy Park is the development of the power plant, capable of treating up to 200,000 tonnes of non-hazardous residual waste each year, exporting circa 30MW of electricity (enough to power approximately 50,000 homes). The facility would also have the potential to supply heat to at least 32,000 local homes as well as businesses through a district heat network and distribution of heat batteries.

A: The Inverurie Paper Mill closed in 2009. It was once one of Aberdeenshire’s largest employers.

A: In 2012, a Proposal of Application Notice (PoAN) was submitted to Aberdeenshire Council for plasma gasification based plant on the site of the Inverurie Paper Mill. Consultation events were held with the local community throughout 2012, however, the application was not progressed for a number of technical and commercial reasons.

2. Site and Proposal

A:  No, Kirkwood Commercial Park Limited own the land and the project has an exclusive partnership with Kirkwood to develop the project on their site.

A: Agile Energy has a committed ambition to turn the Thainstone Energy Park into a world-leading hub for low-carbon energy generation and business operations. The project has an ambition that includes leveraging the power plant to create new business opportunities and employment including district heating, hydrogen production and distribution, advanced horticulture and aquaculture, and carbon capture and utilisation to name but a few.

A: During construction, the power plant itself would create up to 300 construction jobs at its peak, with a further 40 permanent, operational jobs once in full operation. Additional employment will be created by the complementary businesses that will evolve once the plant is built.

A: This type of facility will take approx. three years to construct. This includes full commissioning and testing.

A: The investment value of the power plant is in the region of £200m.

3. Energy Recovery Facility Process (ERF)

A: The type of waste used in the facility will be  commercial and industrial, along with some domestic.

A: The waste will come from the North East and Highlands.

A: Yes. In order to operate, the facility must have a PPC permit from SEPA. The permit will control all operations at the facility and will only be granted if SEPA is sure that local people and the environment will be protected. SEPA has stated that ‘appropriately located and well managed energy from waste facilities will meet modern requirements. These are principally stringent emission standards contained in the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and promulgated in Scotland as the Pollution Prevention Control (PPC) Regulations and require that the plant does not cause significant pollution of the environment or harm human health.’

When consulting on a permit SEPA asks local NHS Health Boards to comment on any potential health impacts and takes their views into account when deciding whether to grant a permit.

A detailed Air Quality Assessment which looks at all potential air quality impacts, including emissions from vehicles using the site, will be undertaken as part of the planning application. The assessment will show how local air quality will be protected and identify any measures that will be put in place.

A: All combustion processes create emissions which can contribute to airborne particulate levels. The gases created in the power plant are cleaned using highly sophisticated technology before being released. All facilities using ERF technology must comply with strict emissions standards, which are designed to protect public health. Controls on emissions from ERF are tighter than other large industrial plants such as coal-fired power stations. The project has selected the very best emissions control technology.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) governs the operation of all ERF’s and states that the potential effects of emissions from modern facilities “would be very small – if detectable at all” (Health Protection Scotland, 2009). Before it can operate, the Energy Recovery Centre must have a Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) Permit from SEPA which will state the emission limits that are allowed and the project technology will ensure that the emissions from the plant fall well below the limits stated in the permit . The emissions will be continually monitored to ensure that the facility is always operating well within these limits.

A: If there is any  risk to public health SEPA will shut down a facility.

Energy Recovery Facilities (ERF) must comply with stringent emissions standards, which are designed to protect public health. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) controls the operation of all ERF’s and states that the potential effects of emissions from modern facilities “would be very small – if detectable at all”.

SEPA’s position on ERF’s is clear: “Appropriately located and well managed energy from waste facilities, that meet modern requirements such as the stringent emission standards contained in the European Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and Pollution Prevention Control (PPC) Regulations, should not cause significant pollution of the environment or harm human health”.

This followed a report carried out by Health Protection Scotland (2009) which reviewed previous studies into the potential health effects of ERF’s and is in line with the Health Protection Agency’s position:

“Modern, well managed incinerators make only a small contribution to local concentrations of air pollutants. It is possible that such small additions could have an impact on health but such effects, if they exist, are likely to be very small and not detectable.” (Health Protection Agency Feb 2010)

A: No.  Once operational, environmental issues will be controlled through the site’s Environmental Permit which will be regulated by SEPA, with all operations from receipt of the waste managed within a sealed building.

All waste will be unloaded and treated within the building which is sealed and maintained under negative pressure.  As a result, when a door opens to allow a vehicle to enter or exit the waste bunker, clean air is drawn into the building rather than leaving.  This air is then used in the thermal treatment process so that any potential smell is destroyed before being emitted via the stack.

A: The facility will be designed and operated to minimise noise impacts.

Noise monitoring will be undertaken to understand background noise conditions and a detailed noise model has been used to predict noise levels at nearby residential properties close to the site. The model considers noise generated by HGVs entering and leaving the site, with mitigation measures used to reduce noise impacts from the facility.

A: No. All waste delivered to the facility will be unloaded and handled within the buildings under negative pressure.

A: Waste will be delivered directly to the facility in sealed municipal waste vehicles. These vehicles will access the site from the A96.

A:  Yes. The plant will include equipment designed to ensure that any recyclable materials that remain in the waste stream can be recovered.

A: No. All waste delivered to the facility will be classified as non-hazardous business, commercial and municipal waste . Specialist facilities exist throughout the UK to receive and treat hazardous or clinical waste. This facility will not be one of these.

A: Yes, this is likely. A wide range of plastics and all paper products, once recycled a number of times, cannot be recycled again. As businesses are driven by cost it makes more sense to remove as much recyclable material from the waste stream as possible, before paying for it to be thermally treated in an energy from waste facility. An example includes a pizza box which is cross contaminated with food waste and can no longer be recycled.

A: The technology to be used will start with front end processing of the waste so that any remaining recyclables can be removed and the homogenous fuel material is produced to go into a circulating fluidised bed (CFB) furnace where it is burned under computer managed conditions to raise steam which in turn drives a steam turbine generator to produce electricity. Flue gases are treated using the latest technology from Sweden, arguably the World’s leading experts in this area, and the gases, mostly nitrogen and carbon dioxide are then returned to the atmosphere.

A: The technology comes from a wide variety of market-leading suppliers such as Foster Wheeler and General Electric while the overall design will be delivered by design houses in the UK and continental Europe.

A: 850 degrees centigrade for a minimum of 2 seconds. This temperature and residence time is laid down by UK and European legislation.

A: There are many ERF’s in operation throughout the UK, including a number in Scotland.

Our technology partner has supplied a full range of CFB boilers totalling 36 GWe in power capacity and have 30 million hours of operational experience including in Scotland.

A: Yes – central to the development of the ERF and Agile Energy’s vision for the energy park is the development of a District Heat Network. Agile are also investigating the feasibility of employing waste heat from the power plant to heat greenhouses, grow warm water prawns and recharge heat batteries that could extend the reach of the conventional pipeline network to the whole of Aberdeenshire.

A: The normal route for disposal of incinerator bottom ash (IBA) is to landfill. This however will be a last resort for the project and we are looking at a number of initiatives that will allow us to transform IBA into useful products such as bricks and paving slabs.

A:  The project is targeting a stack height similar to the existing former paper mill stack which still sits on the site.

3. Planning Application and PPC Permit

A: At this point in time the project is applying for planning permission for a power plant to be sited on the 10-acre site inside the former Inverurie Paper Mill which is now Kirkwood Commercial Park. The planning application will also request permission for an Education / Visitor Centre to be located within the facility.

A: Yes – the Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) permit application will be submitted at the same time as or shortly after the planning application. The PPC permit will be issued by SEPA and will lay down all the legislative limits within which the plant must operate.

3. Additional Information

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