Call for greater role of waste to energy in renewables review

The Government has published its preliminary consultation on the Renewables Obligation this week, leading to calls for a greater use of 'energy from waste' facilities.

The consultation outlines a number of options to improve the effectiveness of the RO – a market mechanism to ensure all electricity suppliers produce a specified and increasing amount of their energy from renewable sources – and will look at such things as the effectiveness of the system since it began in 2002, working arrangements to make it easier for smaller generators to benefit, future cost competitiveness of renewable technologies, and energy from mixed wastes.

On this last point, Mike Snell of the Waste Recycling Group has urged the government to do more, saying that energy from waste (EfW) facilities could help the UK meet both waste and energy requirements.

Speaking at the Energy from Waste a New Future conference, organised by Recycling and Waste World magazine, Mr Snell said that increased capacity for EfW was urgently required and that the reforms of Planning Policy Statement 10, the review of the RO and ongoing research all provide a positive future framework.

“However, there are four important questions that need to be addressed,” he said. “Firstly, how do we make the case for energy from waste, given the current level of public suspicion around incineration in particular?

  • Is energy from waste viable within the current financing structures and capacity of the industry, or does it need to fit in to the RO?
  • What can developing technology deliver?
  • And finally, is the Government moving in the right direction? Does it need to move faster and what levels are necessary to enable it to advocate the right approach?”

    These calls were echoed by Ian Crummack, general manager of Cyclerval UK, a subsidiary of the TIRU Group, who run the Stallingborough plant near Grimsby. This uses EfW as part of an integrated approach which includes recycling and composting operations. The plant generates electricity for the grid as well as steam which is sold to a local customer.

    Mr Crummack told edie that in addition to the power generated, plants like this could even help improve local authority recycling rates if they were allowed to add in the large amount of ferrous metals which are recovered from thermal treatment. This is sold to secondary markets all over the world, particularly China.

    This could also help improve the image of EfW as it is often criticised for crowding out recycling.

    Both TIRU and WRG have said they intend to carry on investing and promoting EfW solutions across the UK.

    The final proposals from the Government’s RO consultation will be published in summer of this year.

    By David Hopkins

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