In this policy statement we look at how the UK can make the most of energy from waste plants, which convert waste into usable energy in the form of electricity, heat and/or transport fuels.
For too long the UK has thrown a large proportion of its annual 300 million tonnes of waste to landfill. Indeed, we throw so much away that we could fill the entire Royal Albert Hall with landfill-bound waste every two hours.
We can no longer continue with this course of action. Not only is landfilling environmentally unacceptable, but local authorities also face challenging targets to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill. Is there an answer?
Energy from Waste (EfW) plants are not incinerators; they are purpose-built to provide usable energy and not simply to reduce the volume of our waste. EfW has huge potential – the technology could produce 15% or more of UK electricity by 2020, while drastically reducing the amount of waste going to landfill.
We urge the government to make the most of energy from waste by:
- Reviewing its energy strategy to make full use of the resources we have available
Redefining waste as an energy resource rather than a problem that has to be dealt with will allow the UK to release EfW’s potential to produce clean and cheap energy.
- Not wasting the heat
Any new EfW plant should be developed in CHP mode. Combustion technology inherently produces both heat and power, in the ratio of about two to three times to one. Excess heat produced in the combustion process can be used to heat our homes and businesses.
- Recycling what’s worth recycling
Recycling is a worthy exercise, but only if there is a market for the recyclate and if the process of recycling does not require significant energy input.