On 1st March 2019, the South East London Combined Heat and Power (SELCHP) facility, based in Lewisham, celebrated 25 years of providing London residents with low carbon electricity and heat, and a sustainable solution for their non recyclable waste. It has also supported the local community through the Community Fund and provided communities with an insight into the value of this type of plant through numerous public open days and educational site visits.
With the site capable of handling 440,000 tonnes of waste per year, it has played a significant role in reducing London’s CO2 emissions, cut dependence on fossil fuels, helped decarbonise domestic heating and eliminated non recyclable waste from going to landfill. By generating electricity it has supported the electricity grid and the increasing demand for energy from the city’s growing population. As an estimated 20% of the nation’s carbon emissions are generated by domestic heating, due to a low standard of energy efficiency, using this type of non - fossil fuel heating lowers carbon emissions and can help reduce cost, and fuel poverty, in vulnerable groups.
Some of the key highlights from the last 25 years include:
- Over 5 million MWh of electricity produced*, equivalent to the power used by over 1.5 million homes in a year
- Over 10 million tonnes* of waste diverted from landfill and used for energy recovery
- Over 189,000 MWh of heat distributed to over 2,800 homes via the district heating network
- Over £300,000 awarded to local community projects
- Achieved the highest efficiency rating, known as R1, for this type of plant
- Reduced CO2 emissions by 7,700 tonnes per year
- Winning the Peer Award for Excellence – for developing London’s first energy from waste district heating network
Richard Kirkman, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Veolia UK & Ireland who was on site on the opening day, and worked on waste inputs and emissions controls 25 years ago said:
The success of SELCHP has proved that this type of plant makes a vital contribution to the environment and the communities it serves. Access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy has a direct impact on modern life, and is linked to fuel poverty and carbon emissions. To virtually eliminate wastes and produce energy in its place is a win-win situation. By generating green electricity and heat from resources such as non-recyclable residual waste we improve resource efficiency, reduce landfill and achieve greater sustainability as part of the circular economy.
Powering 60,600 homes and also providing heat to thousands of local homes every year, SELCHP is a valuable part of London’s low carbon energy infrastructure and an example of an industry-leading facility, operated and maintained to meet the highest standards of environmental care, meeting or exceeding emissions legislation throughout its operation.
SELCHP is one of 10 energy from waste plants operated by Veolia across the UK. With a total generating capacity of 180 MWe these provide enough low carbon electricity for the equivalent of over 430,000 homes. Energy from waste plants are a long established and efficient technology that is used across the world. Once economically recyclable materials have been collected, these plants put the waste to further use, following the principles of the Circular Economy, and the Clean Growth Strategy.