Submission from the Environmental Services
The Environmental Services Association ("ESA")
is the sectoral trade association representing the UK's managers
of waste and secondary resources, a sector with an annual turnover
of around £9 billion. ESA's Members seek to align economic
and environmental sustainability by delivering compliance with
relevant EU waste and environmental law.
The waste management sector has to date made
the greatest contribution towards meeting the UK's renewable energy
targets, through proven technologies such as landfill gas and
extracting energy from waste. The potential for waste biomass
to contribute further towards the UK's twin energy goals of security
of fuel supply and greenhouse gas emission reductions has been
recognised by the Government's Biomass Task Force.
ESA notes that:
waste biomass has been recognised
by the Government and other bodies as a significant potential
the Government has failed to
provide the necessary incentives or remove the significant barriers
to enable the sector to realise its potential;
incentives would come through
a stable long term framework; and
the Government should rely on
the market to deliver the appropriate renewable generation technologies
of the future, rather than attempting to "pick winners".
1. A large proportion of the UK's renewable
electricity has to date been generated from waste biomass, which
in 2005 contributed over 30% of renewable electricity generation.
This has been achieved at relatively low cost.
2. The majority of the contribution from
waste to date has been provided by landfill gas and delivered
through the Government's Non Fossil Fuel Obligation policy. Policy
drivers such as the Landfill Directive, which limits the volume
of biodegradable waste which can be landfilled, will lead to a
significant decline in landfill gas production in the future.
If the UK is to continue to harness the energy contained in waste,
new infrastructure will be required.
3. The Government's Biomass Task Force has
recognised the potential of waste biomass as a renewable resource,
describing it as a "secure and sustainable source of biomass
energy". Waste biomass has potential to contribute to the
UK's twin energy goals of security of fuel supply and reduction
of greenhouse gas emissions.
4. The Institution of Civil Engineers has
suggested that as much as 17% of the UK's electricity requirements
could be met by energy recovered from residual waste by 2020.
5. It is also recognised that energy recovery
from waste offers significant environmental benefits over energy
recovery from other forms of biomass. DTI-commissioned research
has estimated that the largest net greenhouse gas savings from
different sources of biomass came from waste.
6. To realise the full energy potential
of waste biomass, national policy must create incentives whilst
at the same time removing the non-market barriers which currently
constrain the development of new energy recovery facilities.
7. The Renewables Obligation has successfully
brought forward the uptake of more efficient renewable technologies.
However, the Government's intention to introduce differentiated
levels of support could-in the long term-undermine UK renewable
generation by introducing uncertainty among operators as to what
the Government might perceive to be future winners.
8. The Government's latest biomass action
plan continues the tradition of recognising the substantial potential
carbon and energy benefits of exploiting waste biomass resources,
but failing to introduce concrete policy proposals which might
facilitate its development.
9. In particular, planning has proven to
be a significant barrier to the uptake of new energy from waste
facilities. Easing this constraint would provide a strong boost
for renewable generation. The Government's recently published
planning white paper has proposed that the largest energy from
waste facilities should be determined by an independent infrastructure
Planning Commission (IPC). However more can be done to reinforce
the national role that smaller waste management facilities will
play in meeting domestic and international energy renewable energy
production and waste management targets.
40 Quantification of the potential energy from residuals
(EfR) in the UK, Oakdene Hollins, March 2005. Back
Evaluating the sustainability of co-firing in the UK, Themba
Technology, September 2006. Back