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Legislation threatens innovation in renewable fuels

Government legislation has not caught up with its strategy on renewable energy and threatens to hamper innovation, according to used cooking oil (UCO) collection and recycling company Living Fuels.

The Norfolk-based firm has developed a way of refining UCO, normally considered a waste, into a green fuel which has an End of Waste (EoW) classification. The fuel, LF100, can be used to generate renewable electricity. It is manufactured by Living Fuels, part of the Alternative Investment Market listed company Renewable Energy Generation (REG).

REG BioPower director Ian Collins told MRW that, despite LF100 being carbon-neutral, it faces a greater legislative and financial burden than less environmentally-friendly counterparts such as diesel. Clearly, the Governments strategy and PR [about renewable energy] doesnt match the legislation, he said.

The Government has highlighted the role of renewable energy through the UK Renewable Energy Strategy (July 2009) and Low Carbon Transition Plan (July 2009).

But Collins said these strategies had not filtered down to legislation, as fuels such as LF100 still had to comply with the Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR) as if they were still waste. This is despite the fact that LF100 has successfully met the End of Waste (EoW) test and received an EoW certificate, confirming that it is not deemed a waste at the point when it leaves the filtration process.

The EPR state all waste and combustion activities above certain thresholds must either be granted an exemption under the regulations or hold a permit before operations begin. Living Fuels is affected by the wording in Section 1.1 which states that fuel manufactured from or including waste requires a permit.

Collins said this highlighted that the EPR legislation does not take into account the legal and technical status of EoW fuel products.

EoW is a big deal, it takes a lot of time and money to achieve and, by legal definition, all EoW products should be treated as virgin fuels. However, we have now been caught in the EPR. This means that, in reality, the Government is encouraging the use of diesel over more environmentally-friendly alternatives, he explained.

He added that complying with the EPR would cost around £150,000. It is viable for us because we are part of a bigger company group but Government policy and legislation is stopping other companies developing similar green fuels, he said.

Collins has met with the Environment Agency and hopes to meet with Environment Minister Dan Norris to raise the issue. Over 60 MPs have signed an early day motion in support of the regulation being amended.  The company is hoping that the Government will make these changes through a Statutory Instrument.

 

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