Power station fuelled with fat and cooking oil from sewers to open in Beckton

Thames Water sewerman Danny Brackley under Leicester Square clearing fat.

Thames Water sewerman Danny Brackley under Leicester Square clearing fat. - Credit: Thames Water

Fat and oil from restaurants, which clogg up our drains, will soon be powering the world’s biggest grease-fuelled power station.

CEO of 2OC Andrew Mercer and Thames Water commercial director Piers Clark

CEO of 2OC Andrew Mercer and Thames Water commercial director Piers Clark - Credit: submitted

It will be fed into a power station expected to produce 130 Gigawatt hours (GWh) a year of renewable electricity - enough to run 39,000 average-sized homes - when it opens in Beckton in 2015.

The plant will help Thames Water tackle the ongoing problem of so-called fatbergs. The water firm will also be the main customer for buying back the sewer clogging stuff in the form of renewable power.

A fatberg is build up of congealed fat and cooking oil, encrusted with everything else that literally goes down our sewers from human excrement to sanitary towels.

Thames Water regularly sends teams down London sewers to chip the fatbergs away like icebergs to stop the network getting blocked, especially beneath the West End where there is a high concentration of restaurants. Every year sewage blockades costs the company £1million.


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Commercial director for Thames Water, Piers Clark, said: “This project is a win-win situation: renewable power, hedged from the price fluctuations of the non-renewable mainstream power markets, and helping tackle the ongoing operational problem of ‘fatbergs’ in sewers.”

The water firm has also committed to providing at least half of the fuel required to run the generator in the form 30 tonnes a day of fat, oil and grease —enough to fill a six metre-long shipping container.

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The rest of the power plant’s fuel will come from waste vegetable oils and tallow (animal fat).

The plant’s output will serve 3.5 million people and the nearby desalination plant, operated in times of drought or other emergencies.

Thames Water has agreed to buy 75GWh of its output and the remaining power will be sold on to the national energy supply grid.

It is the water firm’s sustainable fuel commitments, worth more than £200 million in the long term, which have enabled the £70 million construction project to go ahead.

The plant will be developed and run by utility company 20C, which says

it will produce enough renewable heat to supply any new housing schemes nearby.

Their chief execeutive officer, Andrew Mercer, said: “We are proud to be following in the footsteps of the energy supply pioneers who created Beckton. Our renewable power and heat, made available for local major infrastructure, is a clear sign that the regeneration momentum that helped create the Olympics continues within the borough. We plan to be good neighbours and will make a major contribution to the local economy.”

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