Wales has been ambitious about creating the new facilities it needs to manage waste more sustainably.
Faced with rising landfill taxes for councils and inevitable budget pressures, the Welsh Government has worked alongside business to create solutions.
The £750m Waste Infrastructure Procurement Programme supports councils in meeting EU landfill diversion and statutory recycling targets. It has two separate strands: one to deliver a network of food waste treatment plants across Wales using anaerobic digestion (AD) technology and the other to create modern residual waste treatment projects, creating energy from waste (EfW) material otherwise destined for landfill.
The programme forms part of our overall Towards Zero Waste strategy, which focuses on waste prevention and reuse, followed by high- quality recycling. Wales has ambitious recycling targets and, as part of this, all councils offer households food waste collection. Supporting energy from residual waste is part of this process, to divert waste from landfill and recover heat and energy. It is a medium-term solution for residual waste as we work towards zero waste in Wales.
We are supporting councils in regional consortia to benefit from economies of scale and reduced costs. This hands-on involvement is crucial. Working alone, councils would struggle to attract competitive tenders, but a centralised approach has incentivised them to collaborate to make savings. Funding and Government leadership has created market confidence and established Wales as an attractive, distinct market.
Drawing on expertise and responding to contractor requirements during development has been key. The result is individual regional solutions and shared benefits, including careful risk management. A sustainable solution, plus financial savings of up to £500m to date against future incurred costs, are the real benefits.
The Trident Park energy recovery facility, which treats residual waste, will be receiving waste from Prosiect Gwyrdd, a partnership of five local authorities in south-east Wales, from 2016. Located in Cardiff, it is a merchant facility run by Viridor, with the capacity to handle 350,000 tonnes of residual waste a year.
It has the capacity to produce 30MW of electricity, sufficient to power around 50,000 households, and, as a heat-enabled EfW facility, it could supply up to 20MW of heat to buildings in central Cardiff through a district heating network. As well as recovering energy from our waste, it is creating jobs and work for businesses locally.
In north Wales, the Government is supporting a consortium of five councils – Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd and Isle of Anglesey – to develop an EfW facility in Deeside. The Government has offered funding for a 25-year period for both projects, reflecting our longer term commitment to eliminating residual waste.
EfW offers opportunities in Wales, and gives local authority consortia greater reward than they could have individually obtained. As well as clean renewable energy, it provides residual waste solutions to help meet our ambitions to divert waste from landfill as we move towards zero waste.
John Griffiths was minister for natural resources in the Welsh Government until the recent reshuffle
John Griffiths’ colleague Andy Rees, head of waste strategy branch, Welsh Government will be debating the issue along with Dr Adam Read in the RWM session entitled ‘Moving up the hierarchy – what role does EfW play in our energy and recycling future?’
16-18 September 2014, NEC Birmingham, UK