Veolia calls for industrial energy action to help protect National Grid

Up to 43% of Grid load [1] in low-carbon energy could ensure security of supply for UK industry

Veolia, the UK’s leading resource management company, is highlighting how the potential low-carbon and renewable energy capacity, which is not currently being utilised, could ensure a secure energy supply to industry and ease the mounting pressure on the National Grid. Through devolved supplies – where industries take matters into their own hands and invests in on-site electricity generation – sectors such as transport manufacturing, healthcare, pharmaceutical & chemical, and food & beverage, could meet their energy needs locally, and have more control over electricity generation costs, while creating flexible generation within a low carbon economy.

Industry is increasing reliance on power to meet expanding production needs and so they must adapt either their generation sources or lessen their demand to ensure they can keep the lights stay on. On-site, generation solutions, including Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plus biomass by-product and Anaerobic Digestion (AD) configured for direct energy usage, will improve energy efficiency and enable industry to have a secure, set-tariff energy source to meet their current and future needs.

Doing so, will also benefit The Grid in terms of reduced losses, while increasing flexibility and competitiveness. 

With CHP twice as efficient as conventional power stations[2], and both biomass and AD turning bio-resources into energy, British industries have the ability to meet their energy demands by generating on-site energy using cost-effective means.

With the increasing possibility of power constraints in the winter, UK industries will continue to encounter steep energy costs[3] and industry could be put at risk by capacity restrictions[4] if they do not start rethinking their energy infrastructure. At the same time, this move to localised energy will also improve the balance of payments as official figures reveal the UK consumed 336 terawatt-hours[5] in 2016. Owing to constant growth and demand the Government expects 24% of the UK’s electricity to be imported by 2025 – a growth of 300%.[6]

Estelle Brachlianoff, Senior Executive Vice President of Veolia UK & Ireland, states:
“As a nation, we need to be bolder and realise the circular economy is at the heart of our future industrial success. We must take action and set out long-term planning goals and commitments to use all of our resources more efficiently to meet the ever-increasing energy and resource demands in a sustainable and achievable way.

“One of the biggest challenges we face in business – and as a nation – is ensuring our energy provision meets the needs of industry and business, our rapidly growing population and consumer habits. Regardless of industry type or size, those that want to remain competitive must take action now to secure their supply as the Grid continues to be stretched.

“We work with industry, businesses, universities, hospitals, communities and local authorities to help them secure their energy supply, improve energy efficiency and ultimately reduce their expenditure, while addressing their energy and resource management challenges.”

Veolia is recommending industries meet more of their energy needs by utilising low-carbon and renewable sources, all of which can be managed on-site to mitigate rising costs. All recommended solutions maximise the value from resources to effectively ensure a secure supply of energy, easing resource scarcity challenges, while in some cases providing a resource management solution and are suitable in rural and urban areas alike.

Combined Heat and Power (CHP): Low carbon / renewable energy sources*:

Energy source Current industry  tonnage Potential industry  tonnage Current MWh Potential MWh
Anaerobic Digestion 7,700,000 116,000,000 2,100,000 31,000,000
Biomass 1,295,000 26,000,000 1,138,000 27,000,000
Natural Gas NA NA 20,100,000 52-88,000,000**
TOTAL 8,295,000 142,000,000 23,338,000 110-146,000,000

* Sources in Notes to Editor
** Based on the efficiency of the CHP reaching the minimum set by the CHPQA criteria

These current vs potential figures have been calculated and released by Veolia to support the Government’s recent Clean Growth Strategy: Leading the way to a low carbon future. The strategy features the largest increase in public spending on science, research and innovation in over three decades and is set to focus on: maximising resource productivity – through more efficient manufacturing processes; maximising the value from resources throughout their lifetimes – by designing products more smartly to increase longevity and enable recyclability; and managing materials at end of life – by targeting environmental impacts.

As well as energy infrastructure, Veolia also offers energy performance contracts to ensure production efficiency, reduce their energy consumption, and improve their energy mix.


    Anaerobic digestion:

    Current MWh – 2,100,000 figure from DUKES 2017 (BEIS stats)

    Current tonnage figure based on the above electricity output using standard 90% availability of CHP and 1tonne=300kWh assuming average calorific value of feedstock

    Potential tonnage based on wet organic wastes – Food – 16 million tonnes, Sludge – 10 million tonnes, Animal slurry – 90 million tonnes.  

    Sources - Official Information Portal for Anaerobic Digestion/WRAP/ Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology - Postnote 387 2011 Anaerobic Digestion; Postnote 282 Energy and Sewage

    Potential MWh – 31,000,000 figure calculated on the above potential tonnage using standard 90% availability of CHP and 1 tonne = 300kWh assuming average calorific value of feedstock

    Biomass by-products:

    Current tonnage figure based on published tonnages used by plants already using poultry litter, straw, spent grain. E.g. Thetford, Snetterton, Sleaford etc. actual figure is probably higher.

    Current MWh based on nominal outputs – this aligns with 1tonne = 1MWh assuming average calorific value of feedstock.

    Potential tonnage - Cereal plant stalks - 10million tonnes, Poultry litter – 15million tonnes, spent grain, coffee grounds – 1.2 million tonnes. Source WRAP

    These figures ignore output from residual waste fired Energy Recovery Facilities ERF, biomass (wood waste) fired plants and major biomass power stations using imported wood (e.g. Drax)

    Combined Heat and Power:

    Current MWh – figure from DUKES 2017 (BEIS stats).

    Potential MWh – figure from published paper:

    “An energy and carbon life cycle assessment of industrial CHP in the context of a low carbon UK” - Kelly/McManus/Hammond (Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bath, and Institute for Sustainable Energy and The Environment)

    Please see attached ref docs and links below:

    [1] Based on Government energy stats (336 terawatt hours of electricity, DUKES 2017)

    [2] Veolia: How does cogeneration work?

    [3] Major Energy Users Council (MEUC), October 2017

    [4] British Infrastructure Group (BIG), 2016: Electric Shock: Will The Christmas Lights Go Out Next Winter?

    [5] A unit of power equal to one million-million (1012)

    [6] Gov: Updated Energy Emissions Projections