Air Products abandons plans for plasma-based energy from waste plants in Tees Valley

Air Products has announced it will exit its energy from waste (EfW) business, leaving the future of two projects – with 100 technical and 1500 construction jobs – in doubt.

The US-based company had planned to build two 49.9MW EfW plants on an industrial site adjacent to the North Tees Chemical Complex near Billingham. The plants would use so-called advanced plasma gasification technology to convert waste into a gas stream that could be burned in a gas turbine to produce dispatchable electricity. Construction of the first unit began in 2014 and it was originally due to enter commercial operation this year.

“Air Products is focused on our core industrial gas business. 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.

Air Products said it had already highlighted challenges with the Tees Valley, UK projects. “Testing and analysis completed during the Company’s fiscal second quarter indicated that additional design and operational challenges would require significant time and cost to rectify”. The company is looking for buyers for the two projects and said 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.”

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