Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is Boston Alternative Energy Facility?
A. Boston Alternative Energy Facility is a renewable power plant with a generating capacity of 102 MW that uses refuse derived fuel, which comes from residual (‘black bag’) household waste, to produce renewable energy. Approximately 80 MW of the generated power will be exported to the national grid, with the remainder being used by the facility.
The facility will use gasification to generate power. Gasification is a well-established and efficient process to turn refuse derived fuel into energy.
Boston Alternative Energy Facility will contribute to the shortfall in the UK’s renewable energy capacity; and will also provide a sustainable management of the UK’s non-recyclable waste.
Q. Why have you chosen to build this in Boston?
A. There is a 132 kV connection at the site which will allow the Boston Alternative Energy Facility to generate power for the grid.
This, combined with the riverside location and the allocation of the site for industrial development in the draft Local Plan means that the site is ideal.
Q. Who is Alternative Use Boston Projects Ltd?
A. Alternative Use Boston Projects Ltd (AUBP) is a privately-owned project delivery company.
AUBP’s core business is delivering renewable electricity projects producing “Green Energy”.
The current Boston Biomass plc facility that has been built in Boston (and runs on waste wood) was originally owned by the parent company for AUBP.
Q. What is gasification?
A. Gasification is identified in National Policy Statement EN-3 as one of a number of renewable energy processes which use the biomass in waste material. This involves the creation of a chemical conversion using a restricted oxygen supply. This converts the carbon-based materials in the RDF feedstock into a synthetic gas (syngas).
The syngas is a fuel, which is turned into electricity by recovering heat in a boiler. The process of producing the syngas does not involve combustion, so the facility is not an incinerator. Gasification is more efficient and cleaner than mass-burn incineration, and has the additional benefit of creating a useful product – energy.
Q. Why are you proposing to use gasification technology?
A. Gasification-based systems offer significant environmental advantages over other technologies, particularly other waste-to-energy systems that use incineration.
The process also delivers environmental benefits compared to landfill, and contributes to Government sustainable energy targets.
Gasification is more environmentally friendly, and economically beneficial because it generates more power generation per tonne of waste. In addition gasification plants produce lower quantities of air pollutants compared to incineration facilities.
The process reduces the environmental impact of waste disposal because it both avoids landfill and produces renewable energy.
Q. Is gasification a proven technology?
A. Gasification is a proven technology and has been used around the world for a variety of fuel or feedstock (including RDF) for some time. It is now being implemented more widely because the technology has improved to increase the scale of operation.
Outotec will provide the gasification technology for the Boston Alternative Energy Facility. They have seven gasification facilities using a variety of fuel close to commissioning in the UK. Current projects involving RDF include:
Levenseat, Shepperton, Boston Biomass, Barry, and two in Hull.
Other UK gasification plants include:
ATT demonstrator project: an ex-incinerator on the Isle of Wight that Energos retrofitted with gasification technology
Chinook, recently began operating the world’s largest industrial waste gasification plant in the West Midlands. The company is currently building a 500,000tpa gasifier for mixed waste in the Emirate of Sharjah and has two further projects in the UK.
Resource Recovery Solutions’ under-construction 12MWe Derby EfW plant
Cogen – Welland, Ince, Birmingham and Dartmoor.
Peel – Bilsthorpe, Nottingham
Q. If you are using this technology to dispose of household waste, won’t this discourage people from recycling?
A. Householders are already required to segregate the dry recyclables from the residual waste that cannot be recycled. This is common practice across the UK. We will not stop this from happening.
The residual waste stream which is often referred to as ‘black bag waste’ contains materials that cannot be recycled; because they cannot be recycled or because they are contaminated (e.g. with food or labelling).
We will not be accepting the waste that has been segregated for recycling by the householder.
Q. What is the lifespan of the gasification plant?
It is intended to operate for a minimum of 25 years, after which the performance will be reviewed in line with operational standards at the time. This will inform whether the facility will continue to operate or will need to be upgraded; or decommissioned.
Q. What happens to the materials that are removed by the fuel processing facility?
The Waste processing facility is capable of separating out materials that either are unsuitable for the gasification process because they are inert and have no heat value as a fuel (for example glass); or because they could be recycled (for example aluminium or steel). These are collected separately in the waste processing facility. The inert materials will be used in the lightweight aggregate facility (LWA) on site to make an aggregate product. The metals will be removed for recycling in local metal recycling facilities.
Q. How will the proposed facility help meet renewable energy targets?
A. The UK Government is supportive of projects that use gasification. This is addressed in the Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy (EN-1) and the National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy Infrastructure (EN-3).
There is a national shortfall of renewable energy and the Boston Alternative Energy Facility will help fill that gap.
Currently, over 3 million tonnes of refuse derived fuel is exported to Europe to facilities that use it to generate power so the UK is not benefitting from this valuable resource. The Boston Alternative Energy Facility will be using this material to generate energy for the UK.
A briefing published in 2017 by the Environmental Services Association reported that by 2030 there will be more non-recyclable waste than the UK can deal with: there could be 6 million tonnes per year more waste than can be managed.
The UK is likely to fail to reach the 15% renewable energy target that it has set for 2020. Boston Alternative Energy Facility will be an important boost to the UK’s renewable energy production beyond the 2020 requirement.
Q. How much electricity will be created by the facility? Where and how will this be used?
A. The gasification facility will generate power from approximately one million tonnes of processed refuse derived fuel. It will have a generating capacity of 102 Mega Watts (MW).
Some of this will be used to power the facility, leaving approximately 80 MW net to be exported into the grid for distribution by Western Power Distribution, the electricity utility provider in the region.
Q. Where will the grid connection be?
A. The grid connection will be on the site and the substation infrastructure that will enable the connection of the facility to the grid will be part of the plant on site. The location of the substation is currently planned to be in the southern part of the development.
Q. How many homes could powered with electricity?
More than 185,000 houses, which is equivalent to over 60% of all of the houses in Lincolnshire and nearly seven times the number of houses in Boston.
Q. How will you minimise environmental impact?
The Environmental Consultant on the Project Team has carried out a pre-Scoping assessment on the environmental topics that are expected to be important for this site.
Extensive surveys will be required on all relevant topic areas for the Preliminary Environmental Report; and the Environmental Statement, which would be issued with the DCO application.
Site inspections have been carried out to set the baseline position for ecology, contaminated land, noise and vibration, landscape and visual impact at the site.
Further detailed survey work will be carried out in September / October 2018 as required by the Scoping Opinion from PINS; and in accordance with the legal requirements and professional requirements for carrying out an EIA.
Q. What is the likely height of the facility compared with the newly constructed biomass facility?
A. Boston Biomass plc stack is 40m high (although the original plan for this facility had consent for a 60m stack).
The height of the gasification and lightweight aggregate plant stacks has not been determined yet, because they require detailed calculations to be carried out to ensure that the facility operates efficiently and safely; and to ensure that the exhaust output is dispersed effectively to prevent unacceptable risk to the environment.
There will be three main gasification buildings, each of which will be identical; and combined with one stack. The main gasification building is likely to be approximately 30 metres tall and 38 metres at its tallest point. This is approximately 5 to 10m higher than the current building.
The silos used for storage of the processed RDF will be approximately 30 metres tall. However the majority of buildings on site will be less than 30 metres tall.
Q. How will you manage emissions and odour?
A. The facility will have to comply with strict criteria that are required by the EU Industrial Emissions Directive. To do this there will be abatement systems that are required to ensure that any contaminants in the exhaust gases are treated and removed to ensure that the exhaust gases are acceptable in terms of emission limits. These abatement systems will operate continuously and will also be constantly monitored.
The RDF is not anticipated to cause odour when wrapped in the bales, so storage behind the wharf is not likely to cause unacceptable odour.
However, when the RDF bales are shredded in the waste processing facility, this will generate odour although the facility will not smell from the outside because the odour will be controlled. There will be processes in place to stop this odour from escaping: the waste processing facility will be in a building that will be under negative pressure. This means that if a door is opened, air will flow in rather than potentially odorous air flowing out. There will be odour management systems in the building to allow workers to operate without discomfort. Furthermore, the odorous air that is vented out of this building (which will be sealed and controlled) will be fed into the gasification unit to effectively destroy the odour.
It is important to note that all of the emissions and odour abatement systems will have to be proven, otherwise the Environment Agency will not grant an environmental permit for the facility
Q. Will it be noisy?
A. There will be detailed noise and vibration assessment work based upon the range of infrastructure that is planned to be within the plant to identify what the noise characteristics of the site will be. When these are known, the potential noise levels will be compared to the required baseline noise levels and this information will be used to identify noise limits for the facility. These noise limits would be set by the local authority and the project team will be working with them to discuss the potential mitigation measures that may be required to manage any operation that could cause unacceptable noise.
The facility will have comply with these strict noise limits to ensure that it will not cause unacceptable noise or vibration to those nearby.
Q. Will the construction adversely affect wildlife and ecology?
A. A Construction Environmental Management Plan will specify how construction will be carried out to minimise environmental and health impacts. This will be informed by detailed assessment to identify the appropriate mitigation measures to ensure that the facility would not cause any unacceptable adverse ecological effects during both construction and operation.
These measures will evolve as investigations and surveys are carried out.
The facility will not be able to operate without an environmental permit, which will ensure that health and the environment is protected by the site’s operating procedures.
Q. I live opposite the proposed site – what will you be doing to mitigate visual impact?
A. There will be some viewpoints that will be negatively impacted by the proposed development. This is inevitable given the type of facility that is proposed.
A detailed visual assessment will be carried out to identify where the visual impacts will be most significant in accordance with the indicative design of the site. These measures will evolve as investigations and surveys are carried out.
However, the site is in an area already used by industry and will be adjacent to an existing waste wood gasification facility, so the new facility will be in context with what is already there; and will also be in line with what the site has been allocated for in the Local Plan (2016).
Q. If most of the site is expected to be hard standing, what happens to surface water run off during construction, operation or decommissioning?
A. This will be controlled. There will be a surface water management plan to determine the most effective way of managing surface water safely.
Benefits of the facility
Q. What are the economic benefits to Boston?
A. The facility will not only create more jobs for the people of Boston, but it will also help to provide greater economic resilience for Boston through diversification of industry during construction and operation.
It will also provide additional revenue to the Port as the refuse derived fuel will arrive via ship.
Further investment opportunities will develop through the consenting process.
Q. How many jobs will it create?
A. Once operational, the facility will create around 80 permanent jobs, of varying skill levels.
The construction process will employ approximately 300 people.
Q. Will you be offering apprenticeships?
Yes, this is something we will be looking at once our application has been submitted.
Q. How long is the consent application process?
A. We anticipate that the consent application will be made in Q2 2019. The determination process will then take approximately 18 months.
We hope to gain consent for the facility in late summer 2020.
Q. When is construction likely to start?
A. We expect construction to start within six months of DCO consent being granted, and it will take approximately 36 months to complete.
Q. When will it be operational?
A. We expect the facility will be operational by early 2024.
Q. How much traffic will there be when the facility is operational?
A. The details of this will be delivered in a Transport study that is required with the environmental information to accompany the DCO application.
Operational road traffic is expected to comprise delivery of raw materials; commuting workforce; removal of air pollution control residues from the gasification plant; and minor waste residues from the lightweight aggregate facility and waste pre-sorting facility.
Q. How much traffic would there be during construction?
A. The details of this will be delivered in a Transport study that is required with the environmental information to accompany the DCO application.
Onsite reuse will be promoted where possible in line with the waste hierarchy.
It is anticipated that the large plant equipment will be delivered by ship.
Q. How will you stop construction traffic using smaller roads?
A. There will be a Construction Traffic Management Plan which will define the routes that can be used; and will advise the maximum number of movements per day.
Q. What impact will there be for the Port and the fishing fleet?
A. The plans are for there to be an approximately 11 ships per week visiting the site. The impact of these vessels on the current usage of the Haven will be assessed in a Navigational risk assessment.
This will identify whether there are any significant negative impacts and if so, what mitigation measures will be required to be implemented.
Q. When vessels are moored at the Wharf will there be sufficient navigable channel width for boats to/ from the Port to get past?
A. Yes, this will be factored in to the designs of the wharf to ensure no disruption is caused to existing ship routes.
Q. Do the same vessels remove aggregate as bring the RDF fuel?
A. No, separate vessels are required.
Q. How have you consulted with local people?
A. We are consulting with local people through hosting two round of public information days (PIDs). The first round of events was held in September 2018, and were informal drop in sessions for people to come and view the plans and leave feedback. We will be holding second round of events in early 2019.
Q. How can I have my say about the project?
A. You can have your say about the project by emailing consultation@BostonAEF.co.uk or calling 0800 0014 050. You can also complete a hard copy or online version of the feedback form. Feedback forms will be available at public information days and on bostonaef.co.uk.