Sun to lead circular economy in Southwark

The sun’s power will now play a direct role in recycling the borough’s waste and saving energy thanks to 2,500 solar panels installed on the roof of the Southwark Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF).

Once fully installed, the panels will represent one of the largest solar power installations in the capital. They will almost completely cover the roof of the IWMF, occupying a space equivalent to four football pitches and generating around 674 MWh of energy every year. That’s enough energy to power 220 UK homes and a similar carbon saving to taking Southwark’s entire waste collection fleet off the road for six months.
The installation is a natural step forward for the IWMF, which already plays a vital role in reducing the impact that the borough’s waste has on the environment and is operated by Veolia in partnership with Southwark Council. The facility not only sorts all of the borough’s recyclables but also treats black bag waste generated in the borough to create a fuel for energy recovery, which in turn is used to generate heating and hot water for Southwark homes.
Solar panel electricity systems or solar photovoltaics (PV) capture the sun's energy using photovoltaic cells. Fortunately these cells do not need direct sunlight to work, therefore in the UK where there are many cloudy days these cells will still be busy creating electricity.
Fabrice Bouchon, General Manager for Veolia in Southwark said: ‘At the Southwark IWMF, we make sure that the waste and recycling we collect from residents can enter the circular economy by preparing it to be transformed into energy or new material products. Recycling has always been a joint effort with the community and we are thankful to all the residents who are doing their bit. We hope that they will be encouraged to see that even the sun in the sky now has a part to play in making it happen.’
Councillor Darren Merrill, cabinet member for environment and recycling, said: “With deepening local government budget cuts, we’re using our partnership with Veolia to develop innovative, locally- driven renewable projects. Not only is this more cost effective but it supports our goal to become a more energy efficient borough. Southwark is now home to one of the biggest solar panel installations in the capital and London’s first energy from waste network which marks our commitment to sustainable energy resources, despite ever increasing budget challenges.”
Anyone interested in seeing how the installation of the solar panels went and getting a bird’s eye look at the sun rising on the project can watch the time lapse installation video here. Those wishing to visit the facility in person should look out for details of the site’s open day on 19th September via
Image: Fabrice Bouchon and Councillor Merrill harness up to inspect the roof top panels

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Heather Millen
+44 (0)20 3567 2624 
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