Uniper’s plans to develop an energy recovery facility at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station site – known as the East Midlands Energy Re-Generation (EMERGE) Centre – have received planning approval from Nottinghamshire County Council. The facility will generate energy from non-hazardous domestic and commercial waste left over from the recycling process.
The planning approval will enable £330 million worth of capital infrastructure investment to be realised, and the creation of up to 600 temporary construction jobs, with around 45 permanent jobs, once the EMERGE Centre is operational.
The EMERGE Centre project forms part of a wider vision for Ratcliffe-on-Soar – to move towards becoming a zero carbon technology and energy hub for the East Midlands region.
This project will be the first step towards delivering this vision, and will bring direct benefits to the environment and local community, including:
- Generating up to 49.9 MW of lower carbon electricity - enough to power around 90,000 homes
- Preventing approximately 500,000 tonnes of residual waste going to landfill or being exported outside of the UK each year
- Creating up to 600 temporary construction jobs, and around 45 permanent jobs on the site, once operational
- Helping the East Midlands region meet its landfill diversion targets
The EMERGE Centre aims to be operational by 2026.
About the project
What is the EMERGE Centre?
It is an Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) that will be located on part of the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station site.
The facility will use safe, environmentally sustainable and reliable technology to convert waste left over from the recycling process into usable energy. It will generate up to 49.9 MW of electricity – the equivalent power for around 90,000 homes – as well as having the capability to produce heat from around 500,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste per year. This would result in less waste going to landfill or being exported outside of the UK.
Project background and vision for the site
Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station has been supplying reliable electricity to the UK energy market for over 50 years. It will close at the end of September 2024 in line with government policy to end coal-fired power generation. In the meantime, the power station continues to provide reliable generation to the system, making an important contribution to Britain’s energy supply security.
Uniper is proud of the contribution Ratcliffe-on-Soar makes to the East Midlands regional economy. To understand how the site can be part of sustainable growth in the region, Uniper has been working in collaboration with stakeholders, including the Midlands Engine, local councils, East Midlands Freeport, universities and Local Enterprise Partnerships.
We see the site development creating employment based around modern industrial and manufacturing uses, with sustainable onsite energy generation.
The emerging vision for the site seeks to deliver:
- A zero carbon technology and energy hub for the East Midlands
- High-skilled jobs
- Modern industry and business uses, served by on-site sustainable energy generation and storage;
- Advanced manufacturing, for example for the production of electric car batteries
- A hub for research, development, and innovation, through links with universities, business support organisations and established industry.
The first step in delivering our vision will be the East Midlands Energy Re-Generation (EMERGE) Centre. It is an initial project that will enable the wider redevelopment of the site into a zero-carbon technology and energy hub for the East Midlands. The facility will help attract other businesses and institutions who could benefit from the availability of reliable, lower carbon heat and power generated on site, that would be distributed via on-site energy networks. In addition, the EMERGE Centre would support the future addition of advanced recycling and reuse technologies.
This project will be the first step towards a lower carbon future for Ratcliffe-on-Soar and will help the East Midlands meet its landfill diversion targets.
To find out more about the road map being developed by Uniper to set out a journey to achieve a net zero future at Ratcliffe-on-Soar, please view the updated FAQs in Your Questions.
Why do we need more energy recovery facilities in the UK?
Energy recovery facilities play an important role in helping meet the UK’s ambitions to effectively and efficiently reduce waste and manage its impact on the environment. Currently the UK does not have enough facilities to handle the quantities of non-recyclable waste that the country produces. The UK is currently landfilling or exporting around 13.7 million tonnes of waste that could provide a reliable and sustainable source of domestically generated energy.
Why locate it at Ratcliffe-on-Soar?
The EMERGE Centre is the first step towards creating a lower carbon future for Ratcliffe-on-Soar and helping the East Midlands meet its landfill diversion targets. When exploring redevelopment options for the site, Uniper identified a need for additional capacity to recover energy from waste within the region.
Even with improvements in recycling rates, waste that cannot be reused or recycled continues to be produced, which is why facilities such as the EMERGE Centre can make better use of this waste by converting it into useable energy, helping avoid the need for landfill or export. In addition, the site benefits from excellent transport links, including road and rail, as well as having existing energy infrastructure in place to allow the EMERGE Centre to connect to the National Grid.
The Ratcliffe-on-Soar site
Uniper is landowner of the 265 hectare Ratcliffe-on-soar site, currently occupied by the coal-fired power station, which it owns and operates. The EMERGE Centre will be located on previously developed land within the north-east boundary of the site.
Aerial image showing proposed location of the EMERGE Centre at Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station site
What will it look like?
The EMERGE Centre includes specialist equipment to treat residual waste and convert it into useable energy. The majority of equipment will be enclosed within a main building with a maximum height of 49.5 m. The two slender stacks (chimneys) will extend from the main building up to 110 m, which is not as tall as the existing cooling towers (114 m) and chimney (199 m) installed at the operational power station. A facility of this type typically comprises steel-framed buildings with cladding. The building will be designed to prevent any odour escaping, reduce the potential for noise, and minimise visual effects of the facility. Planning permission has been granted for buildings with a maximum height of 49.5 m. The detailed design, with final building dimensions, would be submitted for approval to Nottinghamshire County Council.
How will it work?
The EMERGE Centre will use proven technology under carefully controlled conditions, to convert non-hazardous waste left over from the recycling process into reliable, sustainable and lower carbon electricity.
Composition of residual waste
The EMERGE Centre will be capable of accepting around 500,000 tonnes of non-recyclable industrial and municipal waste each year. This includes the waste people put into their non-recyclable (usually black) wheelie bins. It has the ability to handle a range of wastes including biomass, which would allow the EMERGE Centre to cope with any future changes in waste composition, for example, as a result of improved recycling, reduced plastic use, or separate collection of food wastes.
Transporting residual waste to site
Road access to and from the site during construction and operation will be via the power station’s existing HGV entrance located off the A453 on to Barton Lane. The residual waste delivered to site will initially be transported by road in enclosed vehicles / containers. Options are also being explored by Uniper to use the existing railway line to accept deliveries of residual waste to site in sealed containers in the future.
Waste storage and managing odour
The residual waste will arrive to site pre-sorted from local authority or commercial waste handling facilities. It will be fully enclosed within the main building under negative pressure, to ensure no odour escapes outside into the atmosphere.
Managing potential environmental effects
Uniper has undertaken an assessment of potential environmental impacts linked to the construction and operation of the EMERGE Centre. These include air quality, ecology, noise and traffic and transport assessments. An Environmental Statement was submitted alongside our detailed planning application to Nottinghamshire County Council, setting out how potential impacts will be managed.
Construction works for the EMERGE Centre are expected to start on site in 2024, with the facility expected to be operational in late 2026.
Ratcliffe has been an important part of the local community for over 50 years. And we want to continue to be a good neighbour by minimising any effects associated with the construction of the EMERGE Centre on the local community.
Before construction works can start, we will develop a Construction Environmental Management Plan that will need to be submitted to Nottinghamshire County Council for approval. This plan will be informed by our Environmental Impact Assessment and will set out how any potential environmental effects will be managed during the construction phase. The Plan will also put in place measures to manage construction traffic to minimise any possible impact on the local community and ensure the safety of anyone affected.
How energy recovery works?
- Pre-sorted industrial and household waste is brought to site in enclosed lorries and unloaded in a fully enclosed building (tipping hall)
- It is then deposited into a bunker where the crane grabs the waste and feeds it into the hopper
- The waste drops into a feed chute onto a moving grate, generating heat to burn the waste at 850 degrees centigrade
- The heat produced makes steam which then drives a turbine that creates electricity for export to the National Grid
- Gases produced during the combustion process are carefully treated to meet strict emissions regulations before being released into the atmosphere through the chimney. Emissions are continuously monitored by the Environment Agency
- Residues, including ash produced by the process, will be recycled or reused where possible.
A frequently asked questions (FAQs) document has been produced and will continue to be updated throughout the planning process.
For further information or if you would like to comment on any aspect of our project, please email: [email protected]
Or contact the project team on 0800 169 5290. Phone lines are operational between 9.00 am and 17.30pm, Mondays to Fridays (excluding bank holidays). A telephone answering service is available outside of these times.