Keypoint Swindon Energy Centre

The process proposed is called gasification and has been in use for many years. Gasification describes the process by which material (RDF in this instance) is converted into a synthetic gas (and ash) by using an external heat source in a low oxygen environment. The process is similar to that used for making town gas from coal, which has been done for decades. The syngas is combusted in a high efficiency boiler and the heat generated is used to raise steam for a turbine, where electricity is generated. In addition, a proportion of the heat generated can be supplied for use in external applications, either as steam or very hot water. Heat is recirculated from the gas combustion process to heat up the incoming RDF to create more syngas so only a small amount of fossil fuel (usually natural gas) is required to kick-start the process. Gasification is classed as an Advanced Conversion Technology (ACT).

The proposed facility is capable of generating 14.5 MW/hr of electricity and 1.5MW of heat. This may decrease as the amount of heat exported to any local user increases, depending on the temperature and quantity of heat that is required. Both the electricity and heat can benefit local consumers. 

The facility must adhere to the strict emission limits set out in the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), which was published in 2010 to combine and replace seven existing EU Directives governing pollution control. Its aim is to achieve significant environmental and public health benefits by reducing emissions across the European Union Member States. If a facility cannot comply with these limits, it will be shut down by the Environment Agency.

The facility will employ 20 full time operators, maintenance technicians, engineers and managers. The warehouse and storage facility could employ up to another 40 people Experience indicates that these people are most likely to be recruited and live locally to the facility. Full specialist training is provided and the potential to include apprenticeships is being explored, too.