Powerfuel submits planning application for net zero carbon Portland Energy Recovery Facility 

Powerfuel has submitted a planning application to Dorset Council for the development of an Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) at Portland Port, that will use waste as a fuel to produce 15MW of low carbon energy, enough to power around 30,000 homes. 

The application will now be validated by Dorset Council and will then be subject to a period of consultation before the application goes to committee.  

Steve McNab, Director, Powerfuel, said: “This application is the result of months of work to deliver a sustainable solution to Dorset’s and the UK’s waste problem. There is major under-capacity in the UK for ERFs, with 2.7 million tonnes of waste exported to the EU every year and 14.5 million tonnes still being sent to landfill.  

“All of Dorset’s residual waste (after recycling) is currently sent out of the county and/or country for processing. The Portland ERF will take up to 202,000 tonnes per annum of refuse derived fuel (RDF) and use it to generate low carbon energy, reducing the need to use fossil fuels such as coal and gas. 

“In the era of climate emergency, we need to manage our waste better and increase our use of low carbon sources to generate electricity. We are really proud that Powerfuel Portland will be a net zero carbon project as any carbon produced from the process will be offset.” 

The proposed Energy Recovery Facility will be developed on an existing brownfield site at Portland Port, that has previously been consented for a facility to incinerate rubber crumb. If given planning consent the facility will also need an Environmental Permit from the Environment Agency before it can operate. 

Giles Frampton, Director, Powerfuel, said: “There are over 40 similar ERFs already operating safely in the UK, of which the Portland ERF would be one of the new generation, most advanced facilities. All ERFs operate under strict regulations and are constantly monitored to ensure there is no negative impact on health or the environment. 

“During our pre-application consultation with local residents there was some unease about the emissions levels from the facility’s stack. To further limit the potential that emissions from the ERF could have any measurable impact on air quality or local ecology, Powerfuel has increased the height of the stack to improve the emission dispersion. We have also gone to great lengths to limit any visual impact from the facility and our revised architectural designs show the facility will be in-keeping with its surroundings.” 

The proposed facility will be an investment of more than £100 million in Portland, that will create around 300 jobs during the construction phase and then 30 direct jobs and around 60 indirect jobs. In addition, Powerfuel has held preliminary discussions with Weymouth College to establish apprenticeships for local young people. It is anticipated that the proposed ERF will offer two apprenticeship positions, ongoing during its operation. 

Powerfuel appreciates that there have been some concerns about the project raised by local residents, along with some misinformation about the ERF. The application clarifies that: 

  • Merchant facilities such as the proposed ERF do not reduce recycling rates 
  • The maximum increase in traffic to service the ERF amounts to just 0.4% of current daily traffic movements 
  • The heat from the ERF will be available for local facilities and community venues for heating 
  • The ERF will also be able to provide shore power to ships docked at Portland Port. This will alleviate the need for ships to burn large volumes of diesel when docked to keep their generators running, improving the air quality and reducing the use of fossil fuels. 

The tightly regulated ERF is a major investment in Portland, that will provide a boost to the local economy, create new full-time jobs and generate new business opportunities at the Port, while providing a local alternative to exporting Dorset's waste out of the county. By using waste as a fuel to generate low carbon energy, the facility will reduce the need to burn fossil fuels and will divert waste from landfill.