By Max Clarke

London Mayor Boris Johnson today officially kicked off work on the future £80 million plant that will transform household rubbish into clean energy to power up to 15,000 local homes.

Based in Dagenham, this will be one of the UK’s first large scale advanced gasification plants and is expected to create 25 permanent skilled jobs as well as up to 100 construction jobs during the building works. Once it is operational in 2013 it will turn almost 100,000 tonnes of waste into around 19 megawatts of energy each year.

The London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) agreed a £8.9million loan to Biossence East London Ltd, some of which has been used to secure the site and complete preparation work. This is part of the London Waste and Recycling Board's commitment to supporting the development of new waste infrastructure in London.

The site has been bought from Ford Motor Company which will benefit from the energy generated by the facility, the majority of which will be exported to the National Grid. The use of renewable energy plays an important role in the running of Ford’s Dagenham plant, which has two existing wind turbines with a planned third on the way.

The Mayor also visited the adjacent Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence (CEME) campus where he met apprentices and trainees. The London Development Agency backed CEME, among other pioneering areas, is promoting low carbon technology and is seen as a key asset in the regeneration of the Thames Gateway area.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “This will be a fantastic facility taking our everyday rubbish and miraculously transforming it into a valuable resource - electricity. Local people can rest easy knowing that instead of any rubbish they are unable to recycle being dumped in a landfill site and emitting harmful greenhouse gas emissions, it will be used to power their homes with green energy. ”

James Cleverly, Chair of LWARB said “The Biossence plant perfectly demonstrates how waste can be used as a resource and it will make a valuable contribution to sustainable waste management in the capital. Not only will it help divert waste from landfill, cut carbon emissions and generate renewable energy, it will also create permanent skilled jobs.”

Joe Greenwell, Ford of Britain Chairman, said "Not only does Dagenham produce the lowest carbon engines in the Ford world, it has often been Ford's test bed for sustainability initiatives, be it resource recovery and recycling, energy efficiency, use of renewable materials and renewable energy generation. Our wind turbines are an obvious example and a third wind turbine is expected to be built later this year. The use of renewable energy plays an important role in Ford's comprehensive approach to improve the environmental sustainability of our plants, and the Biossence project aligns with Ford's strategy."

Stefan Doeblin, Director of Biossence East London, commented “We are delighted to welcome the Mayor of London to the Biossence East London site today to mark the conclusion of this loan agreement. We are encouraged to progress the development of this exciting advanced gasification facility given the support of London Waste and Recycling Board, Shanks and Ford. This, together with subsequent projects that we are seeking to develop, would make a significant contribution towards the UK’s renewable energy targets.”

The gasification plant works by taking residual household rubbish and breaking it down through thermal and chemical processes to create a synthetic gas fuel which is then used to generate electricity. The Shanks ‘Frog Island’ facility, which will provide the rubbish, is less than half a mile away from where the gasification plant is being built, so transportation is minimal, helping to cut down on carbon emissions.

LWARB has committed more than £30.5 million to various projects across London, to improve waste management in the capital. Projects include Trinity, a furniture reuse programme; the Board's consumer campaign Recycle for London; FareShare, a community food network, Bioregional, a construction material reuse project; a flats recycling programme; TEG, London's first Anaerobic Digestion plant; and GreenTech a plastic recycling facility.