Waste giant Viridor’s chief executive Colin Drummond this week urged the government to aim for at least 6% of its electricity to be generated by recovering energy from waste by 2015 in a bid to encourage investment in new technology.
Reforming the UK’s planning system is also vital to kick-start investment in technologies such as landfill gas capture, anaerobic digestion and particularly energy from waste plants, said Drummond.
“I would invest £1bn tomorrow on four new plants,” he said, highlighting the huge difficulties faced when planning new schemes. “I call on the government to set a target of 6% by 2015 and take action to speed up planning.”
Drummond was speaking at a lunch organised by recruitment specialist Odgers’ Infrastructure Practice.
He said that currently just 1.5% of the UK’s electricity was generated from waste. This could easily be 6% by 2015 and possibly as high as 20% by 2020 according to studies by the ICE and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
According to the ICE, at present just 1.5% of the UK’s electricity was generated from waste. They hope it’ll be 6% by 2015 and possibly as high as 20% by 2020.
He said that energy recovered from waste is typically low cost as it is a byproduct of a required waste treatment process and is distributed around the grid near where the waste is generated and where energy is required. It also provides vital base load.
Viridor heard last week that its appeal against Oxfordshire County Council’s refusal of planning permission for such a facility at its site in Ardley, would be heard on 6 July. The inquiry is expected to last up to 10 days.
Viridor argues that the plant would divert 300,000t of non-recyclable waste from landfill and generate up to 24MW of power.
Drummond said that one of the main planning objections to this method remained the fear of adverse health effects on nearby residents. But, he said that the government’s own research shows that modern energy from waste plants have no such adverse health effects.
He also said there was no risk to the recycling market since there were solid commercial reasons for only burning material that was unrecyclable.