Fly ash is a key ingredient of sustainable construction and we recognise the ash market has an important role to play in diversifying supply and supporting new infrastructure projects.
At present, the ash marketplace is shifting – particularly with regards to fresh ash. In the short term, mild weather, low gas prices, and the unexpected closure of coal-fired units have reduced ash production. In the longer term further power station closures and the Government’s current energy policy will affect the availability of fresh ash.
UKQAA members are however prepared for this and changes in supply should not impact the construction industry’s ability to deliver sustainable infrastructure projects in the UK.
While some stocks of fresh ash are temporarily limited locally, fresh fly ash can be procured and easily transported from a number of sites across the UK and Europe. The import market in particular is growing and the industry is already benefitting from the excellent ash management skills and emerging infrastructure that exists in the UK.
The industry is also developing stockpile supply streams. This involves making use of existing material deposited in ashfields across the UK – either from operating or decommissioned stations. Amounting to approximately 50 million tonnes of ash, there are strong opportunities to open up new supply routes. To that end, UKQAA is sponsoring a research and development project into the potential for enhancing stockpile material, and we’re confident about its potential to further boost availability.
Ultimately, change in the materials market is nothing new, and material supply in general is becoming increasingly challenging due to the resurgence in the economy and the resulting uplift in construction activity. Fly ash will continue to play an important role in supplying high performance, low-carbon material, offering significant benefits to specifiers and designers. Ash is part of a sustainable materials mix and ultimately the marketplace can respond flexibly to change.