UK could "quadruple" proportion of EfW by 2015
According to the Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) ‘Going to waste: Making the case for energy from waste' report, energy-from-waste (EfW) could increase from 1.5% to 6% by 2015 if the coalition provides strong leadership on planning, financing and procurement.“Waste that can't be recycled could be used to heat homes and produce electricity, as well as improving our energy security”, said Neil Bentley, director of business environment, CBI
It adds that the UK could also prevent the emission of 34 million tonnes of CO2 from fossil fuel sources by installing EfW technologies.
As such, the business group is calling for the government to encourage the use of non-recyclable waste to meet the UK's energy needs. The CBI claims this is crucial for reducing the amount of waste being sent to landfill sites and for meeting "ambitious" climate change targets.
The report also warns that unless urgent steps are taken to cut landfill use, the UK will face fines from the European Union of around £182.5 million a year.
Commenting on the findings of the report, Neil Bentley, CBI director of business environment, said: "We cannot continue dumping rubbish in landfill sites. Waste that can't be recycled could be used to heat homes and produce electricity, as well as improving our energy security.
"Across Europe, generating energy from waste is common and compatible with high levels of recycling. The government needs to encourage the development of more anaerobic digestion and incineration plants, and tackle delays in the planning system."
The report focuses on the "family" of energy from waste technologies, which can be broadly divided into biological and thermal types. It outlines that anaerobic digestion can be used on-site to produce heat and electricity, or biogas produced from the process can be injected into the National Grid after being purified.
Thermal treatments include technologies, such as gasification and pyrolysis, which involve heating waste to produce gas, as well as incineration. The CBI argues that non-recyclable waste should be incinerated and emphasises that it is cleaner, more efficient and environmentally sound than burning fossil fuels or relying on landfill.
Among the CBI's recommendations for the government are:
• Recognising the important role that energy from waste could play in reducing the UK's landfill, securing energy supplies and increasing the proportion of renewable sources;
• Avoiding ‘picking winners' from the various energy from waste technologies and allowing the market to decide the most cost effective option;
• Reassuring the public that delivering more energy from waste is compatible with high levels of recycling and that new plants are clean and safe.
It also recommends that the government continues to support PFI and explore alternative models of financing EfW projects as public financing becomes more constrained.
And, it notes that when Defra reviews waste policy in England - the Waste Review closed for consultation yesterday (October 7) - it should, where possible, ensure that local authorities develop effective, cohesive and coordinated municipal waste management systems to "close the gap on regional variations" in the uptake of EfW.
The report states: "With a properly shaped strategy, the right proportions of energy recovery and recycling can occur across all waste streams."
By Rachael Meredith - Let’s Recycle