Carbon dating technology spells ROCs breakthrough for EfW

Energy-from-waste operators have received a significant boost with the approval of a new analysis technology that can determine the renewable fraction of mixed waste treated by energy recovery.

The technology, based on carbon dating, works by distinguishing between CO2 emissions created from fossil sources and those from renewables by measuring the different levels of carbon 14 (14C) isotopes they contain.

These emissions can be measured in the smokestack of power plants and now OFGEM has approved the technology for energy-from-waste installations, enabling operators to claim renewable obligation certificates (ROCs).

OFGEM’s biomass, waste & co-firing manager, Richard Bellingham, said: “Independent reports concluded that the 14C technique is based on mature and well understood technology.

“We are therefore prepared to consider fuel measurement and sampling (FMS) procedures that propose to use the 14C technique. As always, the FMS proposals will be considered on a case by case basis, taking into account the different feedstock used and the nature of each generating station.”

According to the National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC), a leading advocate of the technology, finding a solution that can accurately determine the renewable fraction of energy-from-waste installations has been a major stumbling block for the industry.

Up to 60% of municipal solid waste can be renewable, and this has until now presented a missed opportunity for energy generators who could be claiming ROCs.

The 14Credits method was developed by the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands and several energy-from-waste installations have decided to start using the technology later this year.

Maxine Perella

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