TV1 and TV2 plasma projects binned, Air Products exits EfW

14 May 2016

Air Products has announced that it will exit its energy-from-waste (EfW) business, which includes the Tees Valley gasification projects in the UK, accounting the business as a discontinued operation effective in the company’s second fiscal quarter. Also in the second quarter, Air Products says it expects to record a pre-tax charge “in the range of $900 million to $1.0 billion in discontinued operations, primarily to write down assets associated with the EfW business to their realisable value.”

In previous public comments, Air Products had mentioned the challenges with the Tees Valley projects, which were to have employed a novel waste gasification concept using Westinghouse plasma technology. Testing and analysis indicated that "additional design and operational challenges would require significant time and cost to rectify." Consequently, the board of directors decided that it was no longer in the best interest of the company and its shareholders to continue the Tees Valley projects. Air Products says it will work to "optimise the cash value of its investments." Exiting the EfW business will "allow the company to direct its resources to its core business of industrial gases."

A novel feature of TV1 and TV2, in addition to use of the Westinghouse plasma, is that the power blocks employ combined cycle technology, thought to be the first application in a power from waste facility.

As from the summer of 2015, the Westinghouse plasma technology has been Chinese owned, with the acquisition of Canada-based AlterNRG by Sunshine Kaidi New Energy Group.

“We pushed very hard to make this new EfW technology work and I would like to thank the team who worked so diligently. We appreciate the hard work of our employees and contractors at the site, and certainly understand their disappointment in this decision. We are also disappointed with the outcome," said Seifi Ghasemi, chairman, president and CEO of Air Products.

In late 2015 Air Products said it had suspended work on a second Westinghouse-plasma-based waste gasification facility on the Tees Valley site (TV2), pending resolution of problems at the first unit (TV1).

The 49.9 MWe (1000 t/d MSW) units were intended to be identical, with Amec Foster Wheeler EPC contractor on TV1 and Air Products acting its own EPC contractor on TV2.

Interestingly Air Products started work on TV2 while TV1 was at an early stage of construction, suggesting it had a good deal of confidence in the technology at that early stage of the project.

In November 2015, Air Products said that "after careful consideration we have made a decision to temporarily suspend construction of our second energy from waste project (TV2) in Tees Valley, UK...the duration of the suspension is yet to be determined but we remain committed to completing both facilities as soon as possible...As with many ground breaking projects, improvements are identified as construction advances and new solutions put in place. This is the case for our first renewable energy facility currently being built (TV1)."

Power from Waste & Biomass The Tees Valley site
Power from Waste & Biomass

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