Siemens: Integrated approach to EfW could cut plant costs by 13%

EXCLUSIVE: The current system for delivering energy-from-waste (EfW) plants in the UK is not fit for purpose, according to the head of renewable power and oil and gas at Siemens UK.

Speaking to edie this week, George Giles said that a more integrated approach to the commissioning of EfW plants could ultimately cut operating costs by up to 13%.

“The way we build these EfW plants is not as efficient as it could be,” Giles said. “The project is given to a contractor who is asked to deliver the plant in a certain timeframe and to a certain budget. Their drivers are very much around building the plant as cost-effectively as they can.

“They then hand it over to an operator like SITA, Viridor or Veolia, which has a completely different set of drivers. Their focus is on operational costs and running the plant for the next 25 to 30 years.”

Giles said a more integrated approach, where developers and operators work together to produce more efficient plants, could cut operating costs by up to 13%. “That number is up for debate,” he added, “because every solution is completely different. It could be higher or lower but we need to put a number out there to start the debate.”

Wasting time

Giles said that this cost-cutting approach would be needed urgently, as the Renewables Obligation (RO) subsidy scheme is set to be shut down in March 2017 and replaced by the Contracts for Difference (CfD) mechanism, which arguably favours larger projects.

Of the 27 contracts awarded during the first CfD auction, just three went to EfW plants.

“We clearly need to do something,” said Giles. “These monetary factors will kick in and people will have to start being more innovative otherwise there won’t be as much of an industry as there is.”

“There’s clearly a need for more EfW – we are shipping thee million tonnes of refuse derived fuel (RDF) abroad each year – so the fact that only three projects were supported shows the CfD needs refinement so that smaller schemes have a fairer crack of the whip.

Much like Siemens boss Jurgen Maier, Giles also called for specific targets for technologies within the CfD mechanism, adding: “It needs a little bit more of a focus on which components provide what. If we just let the market decide, then the drivers for change are not necessarily there.”

Siemens announced earlier this week that it plans to become the worlds first major industrial company to have a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030.

Brad Allen

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