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Energy from waste market set to boom

Malcolm Chilton

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs heavily featured Energy from Waste (EfW) in its recently launched Review of Waste Policy.

The government aims to create a zero waste economy and the policy review seeks to encourage businesses, households, communities and local authorities in England to work towards this goal. The review highlights the need to maximise the generation of renewable energy from residual waste streams.  The government has shown its commitment to maximising the potential to increase fuel production from waste by amending the Environmental Permitting Regulations to allow for further freedoms in the EfW sector.

This summer’s announcement from Covanta Energy and Peel Environmental that they are to develop the UK’s largest Eco Park is a positive step towards meeting landfill diversion and sustainable resource management requirements, and will also help local authorities and businesses fulfil their recycling and reprocessing objectives. Construction of Ince Park is expected to commence in 2011. The site is located in the north west of England, in an area known as Ince Marshes and more than 1,000 full time jobs will be created once the park is fully operational.

Covanta’s 95 MW Energy from Waste plant will be the core of the Eco Park with a further 126 acres of the site available for waste, energy and environmental businesses. Companies locating to Ince Park will be able to take advantage of reduced energy costs, as energy from the EfW plant that is not distributed to the national grid, will be redeployed into the Eco Park – a sustainable and environmentally sensible option.  Covanta’s Energy from Waste plant will be designed as a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) facility, meaning heat and steam will also be created, as well as electricity. This heat and steam will be used to power neighbouring developments in the Eco Park, such as recycling and reprocessing businesses. Co-location of businesses in the energy and environmental sectors in Ince Park will allow developing businesses to support each other and work together to deliver environmentally friendly solutions.

Interestingly, areas that are home to EfW plants tend to have high recycling rates, demonstrating how EfW and recycling can work in tandem with each other – something which Defra’s current Waste Review Policy encourages and promotes.

Furthermore, it is expected that the EfW sector will see a multi-billion pound growth in investment over the next few years with new plants currently in planning, being built. The UK’s need to develop energy from renewable sources means that  EfW and associated processes, such as anaerobic digestion and biomass are important emerging markets for allied sectors such as construction. Such alliances are crucial to growth and employment as the UK continues to struggle with an economically challenged market place.

Construction of Ince Park establishes the way in which the UK is moving forwards to a new outlook on sustainable energy solutions.

Malcolm Chilton is managing director of Covanta UK

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