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Shining a Spotlight on Energy People: Edita Adamcikova CEng MEI


5 min read

Head and shoulders photo of Edita Adamcikova Photo: Viridor
Edita Adamcikova CEng MEI, ESG Director, Viridor

Photo: Viridor

The Energy Institute brings together people working across the entire energy sector. In December’s Energy People article, we hear how being Chartered and MEI helped Edita Adamcikova, ESG Director at Viridor, in her career and what she is working on to reduce Viridor’s emissions and convert waste into heat.

Q: Tell us your background and when you first became interested in energy?
A: I have always been interested in environmental sustainability and the impact of human activity. While studying for my master’s in Environmental Studies, I spent the summer in the UK working for a facility management company. I was working as an energy management intern through the Erasmus+ EU programme and I really enjoyed it. One thing led to another, and I ended up relocating and working for that business full time after completing my studies.


What really spoke to me was the commercialisation of carbon emissions reduction through pitching the energy saving solutions. I could combine my personal values of doing the right thing for the environment while at the same time creating a feasible business case to deliver real impact. It doesn’t get much better than that!


Q: Tell us a little about your current job and industry?  
A: I am the ESG Director at Viridor, one of the UK’s largest waste management companies. I am responsible for the design, implementation and delivery of the corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy. For enthusiasts like me, Viridor is the best place to be, as the entire business strategy and focus is wrapped around building a world where nothing goes to waste; not only in the sense of maximising resource efficiency, but also delivering for our people and communities. The Viridor team walks the walk and that is truly inspiring.


Q: How has being Chartered and MEI benefitted you in your career?  
A: The Energy Institute (EI) was the grounding body for me for years. It was the first Institute I joined after moving to the UK back in 2013. I found a really supportive group of people that offered me opportunities to meet industry experts, study and develop my technical background.


Through the EI, I met likeminded people, who I am now proud to call my friends. The Institute provided me with the foundation I needed to grow.


Q: How are your role and being part of the EI contributing towards a just transition to net zero?
A: A big part of Viridor’s ESG strategy is the delivery of our decarbonisation pathway. Being the largest energy from waste (EfW) operator in the UK with an ambitious commitment to be net zero by 2040, we have a lot of work ahead of us.


Building a flagship carbon capture plant at our Runcorn energy recovery facility and capturing some 1mn tonnes of CO2 per year is our number one focus. Delivering net zero requires action that is bigger than any one organisation, it has to be built on partnerships and collaboration. The Energy Institute is a great platform for just that.


Through the EI, I met likeminded people, who I am now proud to call my friends. The Institute provided me with the foundation I needed to grow.


Q: Does Viridor employ anaerobic digestion to produce its own methane?

A: Our Glasgow operation GRREC has the capacity to handle 222,000 tonnes of black bag waste a year and comprises three separate lines, where recyclable material and organic waste are separated from the black bag waste and the remaining non-recyclable waste is treated to produce a refuse derived fuel (RDF).


Organic waste is delivered to an anaerobic digestion facility using bacteria to break down all organic material to release methane to be used to generate renewable electricity. RDF is passed through an advanced conversion facility (ACF), which heats the RDF and creates a gas that is captured and combusted to generate steam to power a turbine and generate electricity to supply the equivalent of 26,500 homes.


Q: What are the main challenges in constructing a carbon capture and storage (CCS) plant? Moreover, what will you do with the captured carbon?
A: In light of the limitations on the ability to decarbonise residual waste feedstock, carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) on EfW facilities offers the only current viable solution to large-scale CO2 abatement of the UK EfW fleet.


The UK EfW fleet represents significant opportunity for CCUS deployment with 15 EfWs within close proximity of the leading five UK CCUS cluster projects. A further 14 EfWs have been identified within close proximity of port hubs that have the potential to support a second phase of CCUS deployment. All together this represents almost 15mn tCO2 capture opportunity.


Carbon capture on EfW facilities will provide stable CO2 baseload supply to the industrial clusters, critical to underpinning investment in CCS infrastructure; an essential route to ensuring the UK achieves its 2050 net zero commitment. The industrial decarbonisation cluster network will provide stable CO2 offtake and storage for the carbon capture facilities.


In August 2022, the UK government announced that Viridor’s EfW carbon capture project had been shortlisted for the next stage in its industrial carbon capture (ICC) sequencing process. This was followed by an announcement in March 2023, confirming that Viridor had been shortlisted for the final stage of the process, which is currently still running.


Developing CCS at Runcorn will kickstart a world leading carbon capture industry right here in the UK. The project alone will capture some 1mn tonnes of CO2 each year. Half of the captured CO2 will be from biogenic sources, effectively removing 450,000 tonnes from the atmosphere annually and driving the development of a critical source of negative carbon emissions.


Q: Does Viridor make use of any waste heat, for instance via district heating projects?
A: Given the significant investment needed to deliver our plan, it is important that all recovered energy from our EfW projects is used effectively. Decarbonising heat is one of the most challenging aspects of the domestic energy decarbonisation agenda, and we want our clean heat to be used to full effect. We successfully continue to supply heat from our Runcorn EfW facility for industrial use  –  last year supplying just over 470 GWh.


Our Avonmouth resource recovery centre comprises an energy recovery facility (ERF) and polymers reprocessing facility, known as P2. P2 receives its electricity from the neighbouring ERF. Within the P2 plant, prior to being recycled, plastics are pre-washed with hot water, and a considerable amount of heat is consumed. The hot water, which requires constant heating to 110°C, is currently supplied via diesel fired boilers. To reduce the CO2 impact of the diesel boiler, our combined heat and power (CHP) project will pipe low-pressure steam from the EfW plant to a heat exchanger located within the utilities building at P2. Cold water from the P2 wash plant will then be heated within the heat exchanger and returned to the polymers plant for use in the plastic recycling process. This process will convert the diesel boilers into standby units and drive down the emissions of our recycling operations.


Trident Park ERF, located in Cardiff, handles around 425,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste per year. It diverts at least 95% of South Wales’ residual waste away from landfill and generates 250 GWh of electricity.  As part of an agreement with Cardiff City Council, we are currently upgrading the facility to enable the supply of up to 15.75 MW of heat to the Cardiff Heat Network (CHN), which is wholly owned by Cardiff City Council (CCC).


The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author only and are not necessarily given or endorsed by or on behalf of the Energy Institute.