Firm gets £1.7M in green subsidies as its plant spews putrid gas

Posted: January 21, 2018 by oldbrew in Emissions, Energy, News
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One local complained: ‘Residents used to be able to watch the sun setting over the sea at Blackpool. Now all they can see is a mountain of muck.’ Not to mention the foul smell.

Clayton Hall, a supposedly ‘green’ electricity plant in Lancashire, has been generating misery for months – by shrouding thousands of nearby homes in a stinking fog of poisonous gas, writes David Rose in The Mail on Sunday.

The owners of the plant at the Clayton Hall landfill site in Lancashire, sandwiched between the commuter towns of Leyland and Chorley, a golf course and pretty, rolling hills, have received about £1.7 million in green energy subsidies since it opened in 2010.

These levies are added directly to consumers’ household bills. The firm has made a further £1.7 million from selling power to the grid.

But residents say the scheme has made their lives ‘intolerable’.

Mother-of-three Catharine Vamplew told The Mail on Sunday: ‘On cold, still days like we’ve had lately, you don’t even need your windows open – the stench is inside your house. It even gets in your car, so you’re driving around with it.

‘When the odour is strong, it wakes us all up. You can taste it in your mouth and you feel you’re about to choke. My four-year-old daughter told me this morning she was struggling to breathe.’

Her son Junior, seven, said: ‘It’s really stinky. It smells like rotten eggs and you can’t get away from it. I put a pillow over my face when my mummy goes out of my room after putting me to bed so I don’t have to smell it.’

Clayton Hall had been a landfill site for years when its owner, Blackburn company Quercia, decided to generate electricity from it.

Its method, which has been used elsewhere, was to drill into the accumulating rubbish to reach the deepest layers, where rotting refuse produces combustible methane gas.

This is collected by a network of pipes, then burnt in an on-site generator.

The ‘green’ subsidy is paid under the Government’s ‘renewables obligation’ scheme. According to John Constable, director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, the plant provides about 0.002 per cent of the UK’s electricity.

Continued here.

  1. Bitter@twisted says:

    Like all green subsidy schemes, it stinks.

  2. JB says:

    One would think the operators and maintenance folk would be complaining as well. Who would want to work with a mask on all day?

  3. oldbrew says:

    The Mail report says:
    A Quercia spokesman said the firm ‘apologises unreservedly to the residents who have had to live with this unpleasant odour… we are doing everything we can to get the issue resolved’.

    He admitted parts of the tip were higher than the site’s planning permission limit, saying there was ‘a plan to rectify it’.

    Read more:

  4. Bob Greene says:

    What a load of BS. Power plants in landfills do not create odors. The odors are from anaerobic digestion in the landfill which creates hydrogen sulfide and other smellies. In the US, landfills of a certain size are required put in gas collection and control systems. That means burrowing down into the mass of the landfill and collection piping to extract gas generated. The collection system is then sent to a flare or some other system. If you do not put in the collection system methane, hydrogen sulfide and other smellies leak through the surface. Under the collection and control system the hill is operated under a slight vacuum.

    Addition of a power plant or other systems simple takes the gas before it goes to the flare and does something with it. No odor is generated. At least that’s the case with the 16 US landfills and one US pipeline (97% methane) plant I’ve worked with.

    The article is a propaganda piece either misstates the facts or that landfill is incompetently operated.

  5. oldbrew says:

    Bob G – the company have admitted there’s a problem, so you don’t believe them?

  6. Bob Greene says:

    Oldbrew: What I don’t believe is that the power plant is the problem unless they are venting some landfill gas from their blowers to the air before it gets to the generators.

    What I know is that if the landfill doesn’t have a gas collection and control system the gas will leak through a proper cap when the generation is high enough. What I don’t know is whether the landfill is constructed with both a proper cap and a properly designed collection and control system. If it isn’t, then leaks from the landfill is causing the problem.

    What I don’t know is if the landfill is properly closing the fill face.

    Note: The USEPA limit for a properly designed landfill with collection and control system is <500 ppm methane above the surface. LFG in a landfill is in the neighborhood of 500,000 ppm.

    What I don't know is if the landfill is taking in high sulfur (sulfate) waste which would give exceptionally high H2S, making leaks for the neighbors worse.

    Combustion devices used to generate electricity convert H2S to SO2. Very high H2S gas streams usually have scrubbers to remove H2S.

    My opinions are based on 15 years of being the environmental manager of a company that installed LFG to electricity operations in 6 states. We had over 400 diesel electric generators. We also had one facility that took 11,000 scfm of LFG and injected 4600 scfm of 97% methane into a natural gas distribution pipe.

    My opinion is that the high cost electricity plant probably has nothing to do with the odor. It is, however, what people see.

    Maybe my US experience doesn't translate well for the UK, but I'd look at landfill operations.

  7. ivan says:

    Bob G, you are talking about correctly prepared landfill sites. I suspect that this one is just a site that has filled up and had earth bulldozed over it to dress it up with no initial thought of getting gas from it.

    The green subsidies usually stop people thinking along rational lines. The general idea is ‘what is the minimum we have to do to get the most money’. This is what appears to have happened here and the local people are suffering because of it.

    A case of, drill a few holes and put a few pipes in, connect to a tank as a buffer and then run a converted diesel generator and rake in the money. No seal or cap over the site, that costs money, and they got away with it for a time – now ir is biting them.

  8. stpaulchuck says:

    ‘Idiocracy’ was not supposed to be a strategic game plan.

  9. Bitter@twisted says:

    “Idiocracy” is the new norm.

  10. ivan says:

    ‘Idiocracy’ the film appears to be prophetic.