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Viridor seeks 6% energy from waste target by 2015

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.

Readers' comments (1)

  • A totally refreshing unbiased view, not! None of us want to live on the door step of one of these plants and it would be lunacy to think otherwise. There is no way that an EfW plant, which is basically a good old fashioned waste incinerator, will not pollute the surrounding environment. It's only a matter of how small the impact is and how well it can be managed or supervised by the Environment Agency. The one proposed for Bedfordshire is too large and no doubt would be so important to the surrounding areas (including London) to incinerate their rubbish, that it would be practically impossible to shut it down if it became a constant intermittent polluter. The organisation planning the one in Bedfordshire is far from squeaky clean, and has been fined on many occasions in America for releasing toxic emissions. Any fines would simply be added onto the running costs and passed straight back to the tax paying public as it continues operate because it’s a necessary part of UK Plc infrastructure for dealing with landfill waste. In my view these EfW incinerators should be kept small scale to deal with local waste only and consequently would have less impact on their local environment. Having two or three smaller EfW facilities may be less efficient than one large facility, but we need to bear in mind that people have to live in the shadow of these EfW plants and reducing their impact must be the priority over profit. Should one of these EfW plants be run in an unfavourable manner it would be easier to temporarily remove their license to take waste until they can prove that they can bring the plant up to standard with the waste temporarily diverted to other nearby EfW facilities. This would also have the benefit of adding in spare capacity and competition to the EfW network, allowing plants to be closed down for maintenance or accidents/unexpected shutdowns as there would be sufficient EfW plant capacity elsewhere in the system to divert the waste.

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