Belvedere’s Cory Riverside Energy plant receives 3.7million tonnes of London’s rubbish in first five years

PUBLISHED: 13:03 20 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:03 20 September 2017

Cory Riverside Energy has been in Belvedere since 2012

Cory Riverside Energy has been in Belvedere since 2012


The plant was opened by Princess Anne in 2012

Nick Pollard, group CEO of Cory Riverside EnergyNick Pollard, group CEO of Cory Riverside Energy

Since a royal opening five years ago, Belvedere’s landmark energy plant has been receiving waste from all-over the capital and helping to power the nation’s homes.

Ferried down the River Thames, more than 3.7million tonnes of rubbish from central London and affluent boroughs such as Kensington and Chelsea has been delivered to the Cory Riverside Energy plant, which has produced enough electricity to provide power to all the homes in the borough of Croydon five times over.

Thought to have prevented around 100,000 road journeys a year by opting for a trip down-river, the idea for the plant on Norman Road was first conceived in 1991 as an alternative to leaving waste in a landfill.

But it took 20 years for that idea to become reality, with residents up in arms over the plant’s potential risk to the area.

Barges sail down river from four pick up points in the capital to Cory Riverside Energy in BelvedereBarges sail down river from four pick up points in the capital to Cory Riverside Energy in Belvedere

Campaigners’ fears over pollution led to two judicial reviews before the plant was officially opened by Princess Anne in 2012.

Nick Pollard is chief executive officer of Cory Riverside Energy: “I think we’ve proven ourselves to be good neighbours, we’re part of the Belvedere Forum, we work closely both with local schools and the neighbourhood watch, and we contributed £150,000 to the Belvedere Beach project via the Cory Environmental Trust.

“There’s no smell, and in terms of pollution, the air quality is better here than going for a run in Hyde Park and we produce a third of what a landfill site produces in carbon emissions.”

For the plant to produce power, waste from the City of London and the Western Riverside Waste Authority, which deals with waste for boroughs such as Hammersmith and Fulham, Lambeth and Kensington and Chelsea, is delivered to four collection points in Wandsworth, Battersea, the City of London and Tower Hamlets, where barges ferry their loads down river.

Cory Riverside EnergyCory Riverside Energy

Once the material is delivered, it is burnt and steam generated from the waste is converted into electricity.

Remaining ash left over from the process is ferried to Tilbury, where it is reused as bricks and construction aggregate for roads.

Mr Pollard added: “The recent widening of the M25 used our material, we’ve produced around 200,000 tonnes of construction aggregate since opening, that’s 200,000 tonnes that doesn’t need to be dug up from the English countryside.

“The process to produce electricity at the plant does leave left over heat, we’d like to see a neighbour move in next door to put that heat to good use.

Cory Riverside Energy takes in waste from all over LondonCory Riverside Energy takes in waste from all over London

“Whether it’s a commercial or residential property, we could help heat a building, we can even use the heat to help run a cool-storage unit.”

The facility does take in Bexley’s waste as well as boroughs in west, south and central London, and Mr Pollard hopes more facilities will follow Belvedere’s example.

Says Mr Pollard, “Because of the delay in building this facility, the UK was somewhat behind some European countries, I’d put this facility up there with any other in the world, and the UK is now starting to catch up, we hear about projects popping up all over the country, there’s one in Southwark and I believe one in Croydon is being developed,

“Some boroughs are still sending waste to landfill or shipping their waste abroad, it’s strange to think of local rubbish going out to power homes in the Netherlands and Germany when it could be used here.

Cory Riverside EnergyCory Riverside Energy

“All of the power we generate goes into the national grid, we generate enough power for 160,000 homes a year, that’s roughly the population of Croydon.”

Over the past 18 months, Cory Riverside Energy has sold off landfill sites and other elements of its business to focus on its Belvedere facility, which last year converted a record high of 753,000 tonnes of waste, as the firm returns to its 19th century energy provider days, only in an environmentally cleaner way compared to its roots in the coal industry.

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