Veolia plans £750m green energy investment in UK

Veolia aims to create 600 jobs in the UK through its investment and seeks ‘reassurance from the UK government about its commitment to green energy,’ says the Financial Times. [New UK Prime Minister abolishes climate change department]

The company’s investment plans include initiatives to convert waste material into low-carbon electricity and heat.

Veolia already operates a 35MW plant in south-east London with enough capacity to produce power for 48,000 homes, as well as heat and hot water for 2,500 local properties, from 420,000 tonnes of waste every year.

[quote] In addition, the French company employs 14,000 people in the UK and also works with businesses to recover value from industrial waste.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Estelle Brachlianoff, head of Veolia in the UK, said: “Everything was thrown up in the air [by the Brexit vote] so I’m looking for reassurance that the government is going to keep the same direction of travel on green energy.”

Veolia’s investment is being dubbed as ‘a vote of confidence’ amidst mixed signals surrounding the economic impact the referendum would have. [Stay or go: How will Brexit impact UK’s energy sector?]

The company is reported to also have signed a new agreement with Hertfordshire council to build a 33MW waste-fired power station in Rye House, 20 miles north of London, costing £270 million.

Waste-to-power energy

Brachlianoff added that while the new plants that will be built by Veolia ‘will make a more modest contribution to UK energy needs’, waste-fuelled power had the potential to meet 2% of total demand in the long-term.

She went onto say that waste to produce heat and electricity isn’t considered a fully renewable energy source but it emits less carbon dioxide than burning coal. This also avoids methane emissions that result from burying waste in landfills.

Addressing environmental concerns around air pollution as a result of burning waste, Brachlianoff said, ‘filters [are] able to remove dangerous particles and gases before they enter the atmosphere.’