Memorandum from Mr Adam Carr, Energy Consultant
I am working on a pilot scheme/commercial demonstrator
involving the Gasification/Pyrolosis and/or Anaerobic Digestion
of MSW for the generation of electricity, utilising the "waste"
heat from these processes, and landfill gas uneconomic for the
purpose of electricity generation, to heat a large (20 acres +)
organic commercial glasshouse facility. I consider this Cornish
project to be both environmentally beneficial, sustainable, and
one which should properlyand indeed legislativelybe
regarded as renewably fuelled. The Committee may perhaps be interested
in the views of someone actually trying to implement such a project
rather than merely seeking to have influential opinions (FoE,
Greenpeace et al) about such matters.
More specifically I am referring to the impediments
(or their reverse) to a project of this sort, with its concomitant
environmental implications, that government departments and non-departmental
public authorities might be expected to exert an influence over:
1. As you will know any scenario involving
Energy from Waste (EfW) is driven by the inexorable schedule mandated
by compliance with the Landfill Directive and associated drivers.
Derogations notwithstanding the great majority of local authorities
will have to make their minds up/go to tender in terms of what
will happen to waste in this country over the next 20-25 years
within the next three years max. Cornwall, for example, is going
to tender in under a year.
2. The County is more than likely going
to end up staring down the long barrel of a behemoth single centralised
incinerator chimney for the next 25 years. This is widely acknowledged
to be a less than ideal solution by both the public, who rightly
or wrongly have a morbid horror of incinerators, and the local
authority whose responsibility is the execution of various government
waste and environmental strategies, some of which have recently
inclined (Best Value etc) more towards requiring them (LAs) to
consider options other than mass-burn incineration.
3. One reason for 2) above is a reluctance
on the part of the private sector to become involved in alternatives
to incineration at the moment, a state of affairs that is to some
extent a product of government policyor perhaps more accuratelyan
apparent inability to formulate it in good time. For example:
4. Until it is made clear whether and to
what extent EfW will be eligible for the Renewables Obligation,
the private sector will continue to regard large-scale investment
in innovative waste management technologies as being too risky.
It is my understanding that something may be said about this in
the summer. N.B. that is almost certainly too late to influence
what happens in a county like Cornwall, obliged as it is to go
to tender in under a year.
5. Uncertainties relating to the EU draft Directive
on renewables are having a similar effect.
6. A survey of local authority attitudes towards
the gasification/AD of MSW conducted by me as part of a study
entitled "Alternatives to Landfill" for Combined Landfill
Projects Ltd made it clear that:
Local authorities are unlikely to
consider technologies other than incineration in the current abscence
of any operational and full-scale commercial demonstrators in
the UK. 4) and 5) above are inhibiting their development.
There is considerable confusion as
to the relative weight to be given to concepts such as Best Available
Technology (BAT), Best Practical Environmental Option (BPEO),
and for that matter Best Value, in terms of the how to set about
evaluating different technologies. I suspect this is making the
task of drawing up tender documentation etc even more difficult
than it need be, and will also make the task of judging the merits
of one tender as against another harder than necessary. Detailed
guidance could and should be given to both local authorities and
the private sector.
7. Clearly it would be desirable were as
many of the uncertainties referred to above cleared up sooner
rather than later. In my opinion the government has little chance
of hitting its renewable energy target if EfW is excluded from
8. Finally it might interest the Committee
to know that the project has applied to the Landfill Tax Credit
Scheme for a percentage of the funding required for a detailed
feasibility study. It would appear that the scheme funds quite
a wide variety of projects, some of which, while obviously intrinsically
worthwhile, have little to do with minimising environmental damage
caused by the disposal of waste, which in my opinion, and in view
of the source of the scheme's funds, they perhaps ought to more
than is now the case. I have heard rumours to the effect that
steps are being taken in this directionwhich if trueI
can only applaud.