Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of MRW, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Renewable energy basks in warmer glow

Robin Latchem

I was put on the spot at a recent conference when asked for my view of the energy-from-waste (EfW) sector - essentially energy recovery.

A tweet from a panellist, Suez technical director Stuart Hayward-Higham, did a decent job of summing up my contribution: “EfW is a necessary part of the mix in the transition to a more circular world.” Forty years ago, waste management was very different; 40 years from now, it will be different again. To some extent, EfW is a means to an end.

Arguments for and against are well known and this week we are expected to see the Torvik report-of-reports commissioned by the ESA to try to resolve the claims and counterclaims about overcapacity in the UK market.

I was struck by the upbeat nature of the conference, which was staged by Siemens UK – despite this being a year in which no major NEW facilities reached financial close or began construction.

Matthew Knight, the company’s director of energy strategy and government affairs, said renewable energy in general had become “sexy” as policy-makers realise that costs are coming down and the need for subsidies is diminishing. The low strike price in the latest contracts for difference auction had had a powerful impact.

The most important consequence of more ‘affordable’ schemes seems to be greater opportunity for privately funded merchant plants: the more they are capable of standing on their own two feet, the more likely investors are to buy in.

Just as impressive were examples of the ‘decentralisation’ of power generation. The failure of Air Products’ large Tees Valley schemes undermined trust in advanced conversion technology, but versions of pyrolysis or gasification are now being developed on a smaller scale, such that future homes might have their own off-grid EfW ‘facility’. An interesting development indeed.

The growing list of Government policy statements around infrastructure and renewable heat, energy and fuels, suggest the negative years of the Cameron administration in the ’green sector’ are now well behind us.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.