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Thainstone Energy Recovery Plant in Aberdeenshire

The Thainstone Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) will generate 30 megawatts electricity from 200,000 kilotons of residual waste using efficient, sustainable technologies.

The circulating fluidised bed technology gives higher efficiency combustion and lower emissions compared to other energy from waste (EfW) technologies in use in the UK.

The plant will use the latest proven technology from world class vendors and be regarded as best available technology (BAT) according to European norms.

This investment will suit equity and debt investors / funds looking to make an environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment that will make an important contribution to net zero.

The 42,000 square metre former paper mill site provides potential for further future development. The community and environment have been front and centre of the development at every stage.

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Location:

Inverurie, Scotland

Investment type:

Capital investment - energy and infrastructure

Sector:

(Sustainable infrastructure, Energy from waste & recycling)

Project promoter:

Agile Energy Recovery (Inverurie) Ltd

Scale:

£340 million

Planning status:

Detailed planning obtained

Time to Final Investment Decision (FID):

0-6 months

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Ummar Hanif

Senior Investment Specialist

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Sector and market opportunity

Legislation in Scotland mandates the closure of landfill sites for waste by 2025. This project will replace landfill in North East Scotland when the ban is executed.

Location

The former paper mill site has excellent road links to the main sources of waste and Aberdeen, is within 6km of the national grid substation and 5km of the planned combined charing system (CCS) network connection.

Thainstone integrated resource recovery facility (IRF) will provide baseload power supply and inertia providing a valuable electricity commodity in a region with heavy reliance on intermittent power generation.

The community and environment have been front and centre of the development at every stage.

Connectivity

The site is well serviced by dual-carriageway. The ports of Aberdeen Peterhead and Montrose are within 70km which is important for the construction phase. The main source of waste in and around the City of Aberdeen is on average 15km away.

Local talent and skills

The skills required for construction, operations and maintenance of the plant are all available locally, with the area having a background in the oil and gas service sector as well as power generation. The former paper mill had a workforce of over 500 including operations and maintenance of the 10 MW combined heat and power plant, with many of this former workforce having indicated interest in the project.

Research and expertise

Assisting and advising the experienced development team are legal advisors (Dentons), financial/tax advisors (Alvarez & Marsal), environment and planning advisors (Natural Power) PR and communications (Liberty 1), civils and building (Fairhurst), commercial/contract (Ian Allen Associates), third party certification (Bureau Veritas), architectural/building (Notch Architecture) and others.

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Scotland

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Further details

Thainstone IRF will evolve waste management in the UK by using technologies for the first time in the UK that are already in commercial use in other countries.

Thainstone IRF is the next evolutionary step in the hierarchy of waste management which began with incineration, moved to the current incineration with energy recovery in the form of electricity generation (ERF) and now to the integrated resource recovery facility.

The Thainstone IRF design provides for the recovery of recyclable materials, after which the remainder fuels the power plant. This is up to 100% more efficient in producing electricity, and utilises the maximum amount of energy in the form of waste heat.

The project is also developing the UK’s first large scale heat battery project allowing delivery of affordable low carbon heat by road into rural businesses and housing. Such areas would otherwise rely on expensive electricity or oil for heating. In the final step, the plant design would capture carbon dioxide for subsequent utilisation as low carbon fuel and / or for chemicals, and sequestration.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) highlights

The project replaces landfill produced methane and displaces gas fired generation CO2 emissions. It will provide local jobs to deal with a local waste issue and prevents export of the problem, turning waste instead into a sustainable fuel and resource. Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) will provide for the potential of 17 million tonnes of carbon reduction over the lifetime of the plant.

Promoters and partnerships

The promoter/developer is Agile Energy Recovery (Inverurie) Ltd (AERI), a special purpose vehicle which owns all the assets in the project including the site lease, planning permission and the grid connection.

AERI is led by an experienced Team of engineers with over 200 years of collective experience in the oil and gas, utility, and construction sectors both domestically and internationally. Team members bring experience and knowledge in project development/management, engineering, planning, quality management, commercial/contract, IT and systems engineering.

Local and national government support

Scottish Enterprise have supported a viability study for the delivery of a heat network locally and Aberdeenshire Council have supported the project with advice and information.

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