Shropshire Council to consider pioneering project to tackle climate crisis
Pioneering plans to allow Shropshire Council to create the first council-owned pyrolysis plant and target the climate crisis are being put before councillors at the next meeting of Shropshire Council on Thursday 21 September 2023.
A report to councillors seeks permission for officers to develop a £2m carbon-saving pyrolysis plant in Shropshire. If agreed, the demonstrator project would be the first of its kind for a council in the UK.
Pyrolysis is the heating of organic matter at high temperatures, without oxygen. It creates gases and oils which can be burned in a generator to produce clean renewable electricity, around 35% of which is used to power the unit. It creates biochar, a carbon storing form of charcoal, that has many uses and is considered to be of great benefit environmentally.
Biochar is most commonly used on land, where it improves the soil, helps reduce drought stress for crops, and stores carbon that was formerly carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It can also help reduces pollutants like agricultural pesticides and fertilisers from getting into rivers.
More recently, biochar is being used in materials like plastic alternatives and in asphalt for road surfacing. In both cases the materials have a much lower carbon footprint but perform just as well.
Shropshire Council proposes the pyrolysis unit could process pieces of wood left over after composing domestic green waste. Larger pieces of wood don’t compost very well but are ideal for pyrolysis.
Ian Nellins, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for climate change, environment and transport, said:-
“Shropshire Council’s Climate Change Strategy has a target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030, but emission reduction alone is not sufficient. We also need to consider greenhouse gas removal methods that actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
“Pyrolysis is such a method, with the benefit of seeing carbon almost permanently removed from the atmosphere.
“In addition to the obvious environmental benefits, the excess power and biochar created can be sold to local businesses and residences, creating another source of renewable energy and emissions management.”
Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for housing and assets, said:-
“Developing a pyrolysis plant which runs off self-generated clean energy and creates biochar would certainly give Shropshire the edge and would put us in a uniquely pioneering situation.”
The report highlights three potential locations for the pyrolysis plant: Bridgnorth, Ludlow, and north Shrewsbury. All on areas of land suitable for light industrial use.
Councillors are asked to support the proposal and commit to a capital funding project of £2m to install and operate the pyrolysis plant capable of producing at least 500 tonnes of biochar a year.
The report will be considered at the Shropshire Council meeting on Thursday 21 September 2023.