Shefield City Council is one of the few waste disposal authorities in the UK operating a waste incineration facility.
Its Bernard Roadenergy from waste plant has been operating for 30 years. But even in a city as used to energy from waaste as Shefeld, replacing the ageing plant with a new, state of the art facility was tough.
The fact that this has now been achieved - and the completed plant handed over to client Veolia Environment (formerly Onyx) this month - proves that there is still a role for mass burn incineration.
Hyder waste management guru Adam Read says: 'Shefield is an example of best practice. As an electricity generator it is 40% efcient.
But as a combined heat and power plant it is 80%.' The £68M facility will handle 220,000t of solid municipal waste per year. It will be self sufcient in energy requirements, provide up to 21MW of electricity to the national grid and 60MW of heat to a district heating scheme.
The main process building is around 48m tall and uses more than 4,000t of steel.
The new bunker, where waste is delivered, is over 7m deep.
Planning for such a major structure in a city centre location was always going to be a prime concern and, as a consequence, architectural design was crucial to public acceptability.
'It would have been very easy to go over the top with architectural enhancements, but we believe in this instance it has been pitched just about right, ' says John Queening, waste services general manager at Earth Tech, civils designer for the Shefeld plant.
'There has been a deliberate attempt to 'mirror' the step change in technology between the 'functional' incineration plants of the 1970s and the new breed of energy recovery facilities.' This contrast is clear on the site, where the new and old plants stand side by side.
The new plant makes use of the old plant's chimney, although the rest of the old plant will eventually be demolished. It is a large plant but sits within and serves its community, says Earth Tech operations director Jim Kirkwood.