What is an Energy Recovery Facility?

The Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) produces energy in the form of electricity, heat or both through the combustion of residual waste. Residual waste (or black bag waste) is the non-recyclable waste that’s left after recycling. The facility treats non-recyclable waste as a resource instead of sending it to rot in landfill.

The process of recovering energy is managed under very tightly controlled conditions. Energy recovery is much better for the environment than sending waste to landfill. Until recent times, landfill has been the most common method of disposal for municipal waste in the UK. However, this trend is changing. Landfill is widely recognised as the least sustainable method of disposal and is at the bottom of the ‘waste hierarchy’ that underpins UK waste policies.

There will always be residual waste, but we focus our efforts on trying to reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste that’s produced by our residents in the first place. Where waste is produced, we want as much as possible to be recycled, and our recycling contracts cover the widest range of materials in the country. This means that our residents have maximum opportunity to recycle.

Our ERF will take residual waste – which is otherwise useless and unhygienic – and turn it into a resource for society in the form of heat and power.

For an ERF to produce power, water is boiled by the hot gases generated by burning the waste. This creates steam which spins a turbine to generate electricity, which is exported to the grid. It’s also possible to generate heat from the ERF when it is linked to a heat network, providing efficient and low-cost heat to residential homes and businesses.

Our ERF will be one of the first in London to provide district heating, helping to unlock the sustainable development of thousands of new homes at Meridian Water in Enfield.

All modern ERFs are built with sophisticated pollution monitoring and control systems, which capture and control emissions from the facility. ERFs operate under stringent standards set by the Environment Agency, and our subject to ongoing monitoring.

The ERF will be part of the UK’s efforts to decarbonise its energy supply and help speed north London towards Net Zero.

As well as the ERF, the NLHPP will also include facilities to reduce waste increase recycling to help achieve a 50% recycling target. These will include a brand-new public Reuse and Recycling Centre and a new Resource Recovery Facility.