Eco-friendly energy arrives in London

Rozie Apps
Wednesday, 17th April 2013

Eco-friendly energy is finally being acknowledged as London restaurants recycle their cooking waste to power homes and a sewage plant.

Restaurants and food companies in London will help to fuel a power station in a step towards eco-friendly energy.

Cooking waste from across the city will be collected to run what is being called the world's biggest fat-fuelled power station.

The oil and grease that usually clogs up the sewers of London will supply the National Grid through Beckton power station in East London as well as help to run a major sewage works and desalination plant. The plant will produce 130 Gigawatt hours (GWh) a year of renewable electricity, which should run around 40,000 average-sized homes.

Thames Water and 20C have made the deal of over £200 million over 20 years to help clear the sewers of fat and provide energy for businesses and homes.

It is believed that 30 tonnes of fat waste will be collected daily from leftover cooking oil supplies, which would usually cost £1 million a month to clear from the sewers.

In September 2008, Caithness in the Highlands opened several recycling centres so that householders could dispose of their waste cooking oil in a more environmentally friendly way. The oil is then used by a local company who turn it into bio-diesel, and sell it as an alternative to diesel. Even the local councillor uses the bio-diesel in his converted Peugeot 306, which gives him 58 miles to the gallon.

A similar project has been used in North Kirklees, Yorkshire, where residents can take their waste cooking oil to tanks at the council's recycling centres. This oil is then used to generate power for homes and businesses in the UK.

A Dutch airline has also started using recycled cooking oil to fuel their jumbo jets. The airline KLM completed the first of 25 round trips between New York and Amsterdam partially fuelled by cooking oil at the end of March 2013. The company are known to experiment with biofuels, having used them on passenger flights in 2011. 

Biofuels are said to reduce carbon emissions by up to 80%. According to Air Transport Action Group, if commercial aviation were to get 6% of its fuel supply from biofuel by 2020, this would reduce its overal carbon footprint by 5%.

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More resources

Energy Cycling - An Original Permaculture Design Principle

Biodiesel in schools: a UK first

How to make Biodiesel

Running a diesel engine on vegetable oil (Permaculture magazine issue 38: available also in pdf)

Biodiesel futures (Permaculture magazine issue 48: available also in pdf)

Biodiesel: Growing a New Energy Economy