Following the publication last week of the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) revised Energy from Waste Guide, which outlined a desire to see more ‘high efficiency’ waste to energy facilities which utilise the heat they produce, Veolia has questioned whether the planning system is hindering this realisation of this ambition.
In a recent statement, Veolia said that there is clear industry evidence that identifies that the UK is lacking in current waste to energy infrastructure, and that there is a clear need to invest now for the future.
The company explained that it already operates two combined heat and power (CHP) waste to energy facilities in Sheffield and in London.
However, a planning application made back in September 2011 for its New Barnfield CHP facility in Hertfordshire (pictured), which was approved in October 2012, is still awaiting a decision from the secretary of state after it was called in and subject to a public enquiry in 2013. A final decision is not expected until May this year.
According to Veolia, the planned facility could provide a further 20MWth of heat – enough for 60,000MWh per year to heat the equivalent of 4000 local homes.
The company added that local businesses could profit too, with options for 4-5MW of electricity and heat supplies underpinning local jobs by making industry more sustainable.
Wasting time and opportunities
If approved, the company said that proposed 26 MW Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility (RERF) will generate around sufficient power to the National Grid through the energy recovery process to power around 50,000 Hertfordshire homes and save the local authority a total of around £667 million.
However, Veolia added that whilst it is delayed those savings are being lost, waste continues to be sent to disposal or recovery facilities outside the county and waste is unable to be used as a source to heat local homes.
“The current planning system appears neither business nor community friendly since it is not delivering the infrastructure we all need to ensure the UK prospers with an economy that will add value to the majority,” commented Veolia’s executive director, Robert Hunt.
“However, the good news is that we do have a solution available now through projects such as the Hertfordshire RERF and in terms of energy provision it is certainly more cost-effective than what we do today,” he continued
According to Hunt, Sheffield is a good example of a successful CHP project, with local schemes across the city now utilising 40MWth of waste heat from Veolia’s waste to energy CHP plant to heat the city, cool the sports centre and reduce reliance on the use of fossil fuels.
“The question is will other projects like the one proposed for Hertfordshire be able to deliver on similar aspirations?” questioned Hunt.
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