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World's largest fat-burning power station to burn blubber from London sewers


May 15, 2013

A Thames Water employee clearing fat from beneath London's Leicester Square

A Thames Water employee clearing fat from beneath London's Leicester Square

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East London is set to play host to the world's biggest power station to run solely on fat, which will provide a much-needed use for the discarded fat which can block the city's sewer system. The station will generate 130 gigawatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to power about 39,000 houses.

The power station is to be built in Beckton, East London, where some 75 GWh (58 percent) of the output will be sent directly to the nearby Beckton sewage works, run by Thames Water, as well as a local desalination plant brought online during droughts and emergencies. The rest of the energy will be fed into the national grid. Set to contribute a little over 6 percent of the 1.3 terrawatt-hours of electricity Thames Water uses every year, the new plant will boost Thames Water's renewably-sourced energy from 14 to 20 percent.

As part of the deal, Thames Water will provide more than half of the power station's fuel. Every day, the company will hand over 30 tonnes of fat, oil and grease (a charming combination given the innocuous acronym FOG), which it says is enough to fill a six-meter shipping container. Thames Water says the fat causes 80,000 blockages along its 109,000-km network of sewers every year, half of which are due to its having been poured down the drain.

Though much of this will be extracted from London's sewers, more will be gathered from traps which intercept fat in the city's kitchens before it can make its way down the drain. Other sources of waste animal and vegetable oil will provide the remainder of the power station's fuel. No virgin oils will be used.

"This project is a win-win: renewable power, hedged from the price fluctuations of the non-renewable mainstream power markets, and helping tackle the ongoing operational problem of 'fatbergs' in sewers," Thames Water's commercial director Piers Clark said in a company press release.

The plant will be developed and run by 2OC, and is planned to commence fat burning in early 2015. 20C's Andrew Mercer claims the power station will produce no smoke and no smell, according to the BBC.

Sources: Thames Water, BBC

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

Great use of waste fats.


I agree that this is an excellent win/win solution. Thames Water have to extract the fat from the sewers and traps anyway to maintain their proper works. This way they can offset some of their operating costs as well. I love seeing these sort of solutions come about.


Well that's a fat lot of use.

Mia Holton

Scion, additionally, this will provide a reasonable infrastructure replacement for kitchens that use fry tubs and the like, so it may save money in actually proactively reducing maintenance costs (enough people are much more likely to install a disposal that actually goes somewhere they see as useful to make the end help improve the means).

Charles Bosse
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