Planning permission submitted for UK’s first waste-to-DME plant

Circular Fuels Ltd, the joint venture between Dimeta and Kew Technology, have submitted formal planning permission plans for their first £150m waste-to-DME production plant at Teesworks, the UK’s largest and most connected industrial zone.

Renewable & Recycled Carbon DME is a sustainable, cost-effective, and clean burning fuel that can help decarbonise Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) industry and off-grid energy sectors.

  • The >£150m plant will produce Renewable & Recycled Carbon DME a clean, sustainable fuel from non-recyclable waste
  • The project covers a c.14 acre area and is located on Teesworks inland development Dorman Point, near Middlesborough
  • The project will create up to 300 direct jobs during construction and operations, with wider positive impacts for the whole supply chain

Once operational, the plant which will span across c.14 acres and will have the capacity to produce over 50,000 tonnes of DME per year, helping the UK’s move to net-zero by decarbonising over 5% of the UK’s LPG sector.

The site will take non-recyclable residual household, commercial and industrial waste and convert it into DME using KEW Technology’s proven and proprietary advanced gasification process, a form of Advanced Conversion Technology. The sustainable fuel will then be used by the UK LPG Industry in a variety of applications, benefiting homes and businesses in rural areas, not connected to the UK’s national gas grid.

Over 2 million homes use LPG or high carbon fuels, oil or coal, for heating, as well as hundreds of thousands of businesses. LPG suppliers can blend DME with LPG, to instantly reduce the carbon footprint of its fuel, or switching off-grid energy customers to 100% Renewable & Recycled Carbon DME, as rural areas transition to Net Zero.

This plant is set to be operational in 2025 and will throughout the project life cycle create up to 300 local jobs, around 250 in the construction phase and then 50 highly skilled direct roles once in full operation with dozens more indirect jobs across the feedstock supply and fuels offtake supply chain. The additional benefit to the operation is that the plant will take in and treat non-recyclable residual waste in a more efficient and environment-friendly manner, averting increased volumes being incinerated or going to landfill.

Speaking of the planning application Kamal Kalsi, Managing Director of Circular Fuels Limited, said: “We are at an exciting stage of bringing the first waste-to-DME plant in the UK to reality at Teesworks. There is an urgent need to providing affordable energy to those off-grid homes and businesses who need it most and have little to no other alternative and to enhancing our national energy security as we seek to deliver net zero by 2050. Using this technology creates an affordable and secure low-carbon drop-in fuel that also enforces a more efficient utilization of the waste resource to target harder to decarbonise sectors and maximise GHG savings.”

The Mayor for Tees Valley, Ben Houchen, describes it as “another example of the area leading the UK’s clean energy sector.” He continued: “This commercial-scale plant is another cutting-edge facility coming to the Teesworks site. Thousands of good-quality, well-paid green jobs are on their way and this project underlines our efforts to make Teesside a green engine to power the country’s Net Zero ambitions.

“We’re already home to schemes developing ways to decarbonise homes on the national gas grid and bold and ambitious projects like this are vital to produce low-carbon fuel for the off-grid heating sector.

“These plans show that our vision to make Teesside a leader in industries of the future is well and truly becoming a reality – Teesworks will be a trailblazer in creating homegrown energy and well-paid jobs for the people of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.”

Tees Valley Combined Authority, NEPIC and BP are working in collaboration to deliver the industrial decarbonisation “Cluster Plan” – a strategy document to provide the roadmap to net zero across the whole Tees Valley industrial cluster. This is part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge and managed by Innovate UK.

The Cluster Plan includes over 40 industries across the region, including: CCS, hydrogen, renewable power, energy from waste, bio-fuels, circular economy industries and infrastructure. All of these industries have contributed data to the Cluster Plan project to provide the future CO2 emissions and capture planning and to identify barriers and enablers to achieving net zero.

Circular Fuels Ltd is an important and active contributor to the regional cluster plan, collectively demonstrating how the cluster delivers “avoided emissions” for the wider UK economy under Scope 3 of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Protocol.