April 23 - Turning a menace - into a renewable energy source. Oil and fat which currently costs Thames Water in London millions to clear every year is being collected and used to power a new electricity plant. As Joanna Partridge reports the project - the biggest of its kind in the world - is being seen as a model for other cities.
We may watch the fat in our diet. But give little thought to what happens to waste cooking oil and fat - especially when it's poured down the drain. Deep below London's streets, the results are all too clear. This is what happens to leftover fat which goes down the plughole. It cools and becomes fatbergs, which clog up the city sewers. UPSOUND "Disgusting, yeah it is" Now the waste oil and fat is to be used to power a new electricity plant, making life easier for flushers like Rob Smith. SOUNDBITE: Rob Smith, Chief Flusher, Thames Water, saying (English): "Every couple of months we'll come through and flush stuff through, if it doesn't happen on a storm, doesn't happen naturally. Flushing out means that we have to pump the down stream down to get the level down below the pipe levels so we've got a clear avenue for the fat to go through because fat will just float on the sewage." PTC: Behind me is just two months' build up of fat that's been caught here in the sewer. It actually doesn't smell as bad as you'd expect down here, in fact the overwhelming smell is fat. It costs Thames Water 10 million pounds a year to clear blockages - and half of them are caused by fat. In future they want to collect waste FOGs, fat, oils and grease, directly from fat traps under the sinks of 10,000 restaurants. That will power the world's biggest fat-fuelled power station. It will be built in east London says Simon Evans from Thames Water. SOUNDBITE: Simon Evans, Media Relations Manager, Thames Water, saying (English): "That will be right next to our Beckton sewage works and that will, all the electricity that produces will run the plant and everything that we don't use will be pushed out to the national energy supply grid and it will go to run homes and business in the area. We've agreed to help provide up to half of the fuel in the form of fat that they need to run the station. And more importantly, we've agreed to purchase 60% of the power that it puts out." Developer 2OC has to get the power plant up and running by 1st April 2015, to qualify for full government subsidies. And the project is expected to be closely watched by other major cities keen to slim down their fat deposits.