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Belvedere Project Nears Completion

11 May 2011

The UK’s largest energy-from-waste plant is speeding towards its conclusion as the Belvedere facility on the south bank of the Thames Estuary goes through testing and commissioning.

The plant is heading for takeover by client Cory Environmental Ltd during summer 2011, partly due to Costain’s achievement in providing timely infrastructure for the process equipment installation and especially the slab for the flue gas treatment equipment early in the programme schedule.

Once fully operational, the plant will take the domestic waste from four central London boroughs and other sources. The majority will be ferried downriver by barge, keeping around 100,000 truck movements off local roads each year. Local waste from Bexley is also being processed in the facility.

The waste will be thoroughly mixed before being fed into the three process trains, providing heat to create steam that will, in turn, drive a turbine that will generate 65MW of electricity from the 585,000-average tonnes of waste delivered annually.
The project – known as the Riverside Resource Recovery Facility (RRRF) – is worth in excess of £300million.

Costain has been on-site since July 2008 creating the site’s buildings and structures. Its design and build contract included the major process equipment building – some 150m x 60m x 50m high – plus the 270m-long waste delivery jetty.

Challenges have included three of the harshest winters of recent times and extremely challenging client requirements and specification.

However, with the bad weather now just a bad memory and the facility now standing adjacent to the River Thames, Costain is finishing off external paving, landscaping and finishing works to allow the handover on time.

“The most recent milestone was the first delivery of waste to the facility via the large jetty that’s been built and the commencement of processing of that waste as part of the testing and commissioning phase,” says Costain’s Project Manager, John Russell.

Costain was able to help speed the project by rearranging the usual order of construction. “What normally happens is that the process contractor starts at the tipping hall, where the waste arrives, and works his way across the plant to get to the flue gas treatment area. We provided the flue gas treatment slab early in the programme. This allowed the process contractor to get in to start his process equipment erection earlier than he would normally have done.”

The toughest hurdles, he said, were the programme schedule – “Extremely challenging and certainly one of the fastest timescales to which one of these plants has been constructed” – together with the logistics and co-ordination of the works.

At the peak of activity more than 1,000 people were working on site. Additionally, there was a great deal of process equipment to fabricate, fit and install in a very small space.

When fully operational, the RRRF will make a real contribution to London’s ability to meet its landfill diversion targets, as well as creating a new source of electricity for the National Grid.