Residual commercial, industrial and municipal biowaste could provide up to 7% of Scottish renewable electricity via energy from waste (EfW) plants, according to a Sustainable Development Commission Scotland report.
The Commission’s Energy from Waste Potential in Scotland report found that EfW facilities could provide 2.0 TWh (terawatt thermal) of useful heat and 0.90 TWh of electricity per year – representing 7% of Scotland’s current renewable electricity output. The report also notes that the thermal output is two and a half times Scotland’s current renewable heat output.
According to the report, current Scottish landfill gas sites can only provide 0.7 TWh per year, which is expected to decline following the reduction in levels of biodegradable waste sent to landfill. The report commented “EfW could, therefore, more than double all current generation from landfill gas, while also contributing significant quantities of low carbon heat.”
Scottish energy minister Jim Mather said: “This useful report highlights the significant contribution of waste to our heat and electricity needs. Electricity only generation is, however, generally wasteful due to the loss of heat to the atmosphere so care must be taken to ensure we get the maximum energy output from waste by utilising heat wherever possible.”
The report’s findings were also welcomed by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
SEPA head of waste policy Kenny Boag told MRW: “This report builds on previous work undertaken by the SDC Scotland and compliments SEPA’s Thermal Treatment of Waste Guidelines 2009.
“SEPA is committed to working with the Scottish Government and waste management industry to increase our efforts to divert waste from landfill and increase the recovery of value from our waste stream in a manner that will help work towards a zero waste Scotland.”