A new report by the London Environment Assembly Environment Committee has identified a number of barriers that are preventing the development of waste to energy technologies such as gasification.
The report entitled Where theres muck theres brass, states that the barriers preventing the widespread use of waste technologies and recommendations for Mayoral action include:
- Contracts: The long-term nature of municipal waste contracts limit the ability of local authorities to produce the waste streams needed for new plants. The Committee calls on the London Waste and Recycling Board to provide details on all borough contracts and give advice on how to generate waste streams to support new plants;
- Difficulties obtaining planning consent: The Mayor of London Boris Johnson should co-ordinate the development of effective and cost efficient waste to energy infrastructure;
- Public Opposition: The LWaRB should ensure Londoners are fully informed of the facts and benefits of non-incineration waste to energy plants.
Johnson is due to publish a municipal waste strategy in the late autumn and the Committee hope that he takes its recommendations on board.
In July, the Committee also stated that financial barriers were preventing the development of waste to energy technologies (see MRW story). It explained that banks saw new technologies as an equity risk. The report explains: Despite a small number of demonstrator projects, there is little evidence of these new technologies performing at full commercial scale in the UK.
Therefore, gaining start-up finance and underwriting of the risk is very difficult.
Grid connection is another barrier when selling excess energy generated back to the grid. The report states that this can be expensive to install.
London Assembly Environment Committee chair Murad Qureshi said: Londons waste management is unsustainable and uneconomical. The Mayor must take the lead on further measures to help jump-start waste management step change.
Waste to energy technology will help the capital reduce greenhouse gases, cut down on waste sent to landfill, increase renewable energy generation, benefit the economy and create jobs. Our recommendations are pragmatic and short-term and will contribute to a rapid roll-out of these very exciting technologies that turn waste into a useful and valuable commodity.
The report also states that Londons rubbish could be sued to generate electricity for up to two million homes and heat for 625,000 homes.