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US firm abandons two major energy-from-waste plants in UK as losses mount

5 April 2016 | By GCR Staff | 0 Comments

In another blow to the UK industrial sector, a US developer building two major energy-from-waste plants in the north east of England has said it will abandon the projects mid-way because of spiralling costs.

An aerial view of Air Products’ Tees Valley 1 plant, shown under construction in January 2014 (Air Products)

Yesterday the company, Air Products, said it would be getting out of the energy-from-waste business altogether and would record a loss of up to $1bn in discontinued operations.

The fate of hundreds of workers from 20 contracting firms working on the two advanced plasma gasification plants in the Tees Valley, near Billingham, now hangs in the balance, local media reported.

Air Products said the Tees Valley plants had become too costly to build.

“Testing and analysis completed during the Company’s fiscal second quarter indicated that additional design and operational challenges would require significant time and cost to rectify,” the company said in a statement.

“Consequently, the Board of Directors has decided that it is no longer in the best interest of the Company and its shareholders to continue the Tees Valley projects. Air Products will work to optimize the cash value of its investments. Exiting the EfW business will allow the Company to direct its resources to its core business of Industrial Gases.”

The two 49.9MW plants were to have diverted some 700,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste from landfill per year to generate enough electricity to power 100,000 homes, according to the firm’s plans.

The news comes amid an ongoing crisis in the UK steel industry, which intensified last week when India’s Tata Steel announced it would be selling its UK business, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

Photograph: An aerial view of Air Products’ Tees Valley 1 plant, shown under construction in January 2014 (Air Products)