Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Government Review of Waste Policy in England 2011

DEFRA have today published "Government Review of Waste Policy in England 2011" - http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/pb13540-waste-policy-review110614.pdf.

Incineration is barely mentioned.  The sections on 'Renewable energy from waste' and 'Anaerobic Digestion' are appended below.   

One proposal for 2012 is:
Consult on restricting wood waste from landfill
and review the case for restrictions on sending
other materials to landfill.

This is likely to increase biomass energy plants using waste wood (essentially another form of waste incineration in this context), and mixed waste and cropped wood.  There should be much greater emphasis of re-use and recycling of wood (and other building waste). 


Renewable energy from waste

213 In 2009/10, 13.6% of local authority
collected waste was used for energy
recovery and 46.9% was landfilled. Figures
from the 2010 survey of commercial and
industrial (C&I) waste arisings in England
show that while 52% of C&I waste was
recycled, re-used or composted, only 2%
was incinerated with energy recovery.
214 Energy recovery is an excellent use of many
wastes that cannot be recycled and could
otherwise go to landfill. It can contribute
secure, renewable energy to UK demand
for transport, heat, biomethane and
electricity and is generally the best source
of feedstocks for UK bio-energy needs.
Our horizon scanning work up to 2020,
and beyond to 2030 and 2050 indicates
that even with the expected improvements
in prevention, re-use and recycling,
sufficient residual waste feedstock will be
available through diversion from landfill
to support significant growth in this area,
without conflicting with the drive to move
waste further up the hierarchy. Maximising
the potential for growth in continuous
generation available from energy from
waste will require both better use of the
available residual waste and development of
high efficiency flexible infrastructure.
215 Based on the capacity forecast published
in support of the 2010 Spending Review
assessment of waste PFI, waste derived
renewable electricity from thermal
combustion in England is calculated to
grow from the current 1.2TWh to between
3.1TWh and 3.6TWh by 2020, depending
on how much of the solid recovered fuel
produced is utilised in the UK. Similarly it is
projected that sufficient food waste will be
available to help deliver the Government's
ambition for sustained growth in anaerobic
216 The potential for deploying more efficient
electricity generation could further enhance
the renewable energy derived from this
waste. Better use of heat, both directly and
through continued growth in the market
for refuse derived fuels going to industrial
Combined Heat and Power users will also
play an important part in ensuring that we
extract the maximum value from residual
waste. The introduction of the Renewable
Heat Incentive (RHI) is expected to bring
forward an increase in the combined and
dedicated generation of renewable heat
from waste as well as production of biogas
for heat production and the injection of
biomethane into the gas grid.
217 Research indicates that when used for heat,
biomethane generated from residual wastes
could produce greenhouse gas savings
of between 66% and 92% compared to
natural gas14. Waste provides a potentially
valuable source of biomethane through
number of technologies including anaerobic
digestion, gasification and pyrolysis.
Similarly transport biofuels from waste
can deliver higher lifecycle greenhouse
gas savings and have good sustainability
characteristics compared to crop-based
218 The Government recognises that many
of the technologies required to deliver
more complex forms of energy recovery
such as biomethane are less mature than
other forms of energy recovery, with
technical challenges to overcome, and the
consequential difficulties associated with
14 Analysis of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Thermochemical BioSNG Production and Use in the UK-E4 Tech ñ June 2010- see Appendix
J† (weblink: http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/metadot/index.pl?id=10772;isa=DBRow;op=show;dbview_id=2539)
Energy Recovery 65
obtaining funding for early commercial
technology. Government will continue
to take action to help address these
issues. In particular we will implement
the approaches set out in the Anaerobic
Digestion Strategy and consider more
focused innovation funding. DECC has
provided grant funding for anaerobic
digestion and advanced gasification
projects and is currently considering options
for possible future bioenergy/energy
from waste demonstration programmes
based on technology needs assessments.
Collaborative R&D and demonstration
work has also been carried out by other
organisations such as the Carbon Trust
and Energy Technologies Institute.
Anaerobic digestion, gasification and
pyrolysis are eligible for financial support
under the Renewable Heat Incentive
and Renewables Obligation, and the
Department for Transport has recently
consulted on proposals to implement the
transport elements of the Renewable
Energy Directive which include introducing
double certification for biofuels produced
from waste to reflect their relative benefits.
The proposed change will give twice
the financial support to these biofuels
compared to crop-based biofuels.
219 There is clearly a gap between the potential
of energy recovery from waste and the
delivery, resulting in valuable resources
going to landfill. There are a number of
reasons why more residual waste is not
currently diverted from landfill and value
recovered from it. The role of Government
is to help overcome these barriers by
facilitating change through the delivery of
information and support. The forthcoming
Bioenergy Strategy forms the best
opportunity to explore various bioenergy
uses in more detail, and draw conclusions
about Governments role in promoting
Anaerobic Digestion
220 Anaerobic digestion can play an important
role as a means of dealing with food waste
and avoiding, by more efficient capture
and treatment, the greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions that are associated with its
disposal to landfill. The technology also
offers other benefits, such as recovering
energy, producing valuable bio-fertilisers,
and maintenance and use of nutrients.
221 The principal purpose of consigning
waste to anaerobic digestion is to recover
energy from it. This means that in most
cases the anaerobic digestion of waste
will be classified as "other recovery" for
the purposes of the waste hierarchy. For
certain waste, such as food waste, the
use of anaerobic digestion, is considered
to deliver a better overall environmental
outcome than recycling the waste, taking
into account the local economic and
environmental considerations.
222 Anaerobic digestion also has a number of
advantages over other renewable energy
technologies. The energy is generated
constantly and can be delivered to the grid
in the form of electricity or stored in the
grid (in the form of gas). Methane is one
of the few renewable fuels suitable for
Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs), and has the
potential to reduce reliance on imported
gas. The digestate produced by anaerobic
digestion is a valuable low carbon fertiliser
and helps deliver a sustainable farming
sector, where resources are re-used on farm
to reduce GHGs.
223 The plants can be designed to meet local
requirements for feedstock or outputs
and can range in size from large facilities
treating sewage sludge or municipal
waste, to smaller ones handling materials
from a farm or small community. There
are currently around 145 MWe or
approximately 1.08 TWh of installed
capacity in the UK. The potential growth
over the coming 10 – 20 years is difficult to
quantify at this point in time. But given the
current low level of deployment and the
quantities of feedstock likely to be available,
there is no doubt that the industry has the
capacity to grow.
224 Work is being carried out to establish
baseline data on the quantities and location
of available feedstocks and then to map
these with current and potential projects.
It is estimated that approximately 7 million
tonnes15 of food waste a year are sent to
landfill and that UK agriculture produces
roughly 90 million tonnes16 of slurry and
manures per year. Potentially, by 2020, and
allowing for Government policy on reducing
the amount of food waste in general,
a reasonable expectation for England
could be around 5 million tonnes of food
waste and around 20-60 million tonnes of
animal waste to be available for anaerobic
225 If this 5 million tonnes of food waste was
digested this would replace 47,500 tonnes of
Nitrogen (N), 14,720 tonnes of Diphosporus
Pentoxide (P2O5) and 20,400 tonnes of
Potassium Oxide (K2O), saving a total of
386,000 tonnes Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
equivalent in GHG emissions. Combined
with 40 million tonnes of manures this gives
the potential to generate approximately
3.5 TWh of electricity: enough to supply
913,000 households and saving 1.8 million
tonnes of CO2 equivalent GHG17 from gridbased
electricity production.
226 Based on the current estimates of available
feedstocks, and assuming that the barriers
to deployment are overcome, the forecast
potential for anaerobic digestion deployment
for electricity could reach 3-5 TWh by 2020,
enough for approximately 3 million people.
227 In order to overcome the real and perceived
barriers to anaerobic digestion, the
Government has worked with industry and
others to draw up an Anaerobic Digestion
Strategy and Action Plan. This sets out a
shared programme of work to be delivered
jointly by industry, Government, its delivery
agencies, and others to tackle the barriers
to deployment. This Strategy is published

Councillor Andrew Boswell
Green Party Group Chair, Norfolk County Council
E: andrewboswell@fastmail.co.uk;  T: 01603-613798, M 07787127881

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Biofuels are a wide range of fuels which are in some way derived from biomass.

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