Environment minister Ben Bradshaw has visited the UK’s first Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) plant today and admitted to MRW that he would like to see more of them.
During a trip to the plant in East London, near to Dagenham which is run by Shanks for the East London Waste Authority (ELWA), the minister said: “It is impressive to see such an important plant up and running helped through a Government PFI [private finance initiative] contract that is helping to manage waste in a sustainable way and help meet our landfill targets.
“It helps fill our need to prevent climate change as well as our energy objectives in the energy review [through the sale of the residual fuel to generate electricity]. If we can fill some of the energy gap with MBT product then it is solving two problems.
“As a Government, we are technology neutral. But we will need more of both energy from waste plants and MBT plants. However, it will be up to local people to decide what they want in the area.”
Shanks Group chief executive Michael Averill also called on the minister to allow MBT fuel to be covered by Renewable Obligation Certificates that enable energy companies to prove they are generating a minimum of 10% of their electricity through renewable sources.
He said: “I believe we missed a trick last year when ROCs were not granted on biogenic fraction. If it were to get ROCs, then the value of the product would change and it would obviously become economic. MBT plants could eventually contribute in the teens of percentage points as part of renewable energy. This could happen in the next decade.”
The plant began operating last month and the first set of fuel should be ready by July. It will initially be sent to a cement kiln with Shanks paying a nominal fee, that is said to be less than the Landfill tax, for the cement kilns to burn the waste.
However, Shanks expect that eventually the fuel will be used to generate electricity.
At a cost of £98 million to the residents of the four East London boroughs that make up ELWA through a PFI process , officials from the authorities claimed that it was similar in cost to an energy from waste plant, but was more acceptable to local people.
It is expected to work at a capacity of 180,000 tonnes of waste per year separating materials for recycling as part of the process. At present it is only working at part capacity, but should be fully up and running before the end of the year.
16-06-06: Ben Bradshaw is wrong to say we missed a trick in not allowing the biogenic fraction of waste to qualify for an ROC. Biogenic substances are those which have constituents from plants or animals (this includes wood, textiles, paper and even coal and oil). As a renewable energy customer I do not want to be purchasing energy that has come from waste materials that could have been composted or recycled or avoided in the first place. In what way do we wish for waste to be renewable? Burning waste still produces CO2 and unlike say wood fuel pellets we dont see EFW plant suddenly planting 1000s of trees to compensate for the materials they have burnt. Giving ROC's to EFW is tan