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Potential of renewables must be recognised by the Government

It is “critical” the Government recognises the potential of energy from waste (EfW), said Covanta Energy managing director Malcolm Chilton, following European decisions to turn away from nuclear energy.

Covanta has warned that the decision from Switzerland and Germany to favour renewable over nuclear energy “increases the urgency with which the UK must clarify its renewable energy strategy, and address the remaining barriers to development if it is to remain in the sightlines of those global companies that are planning to invest in this sector”.

Chilton said there was too much emphasis on wind and solar power, which cannot meet future requirements.

“The UK requires a mix of renewable technologies to get anywhere close to our target of 30% by 2020,” he said. “EfW is an important and growing part of the UK’s renewable solution, and this must be communicated widely to ensure that those making infrastructure decisions both nationally and locally, and those who plan to invest in the delivery of the infrastructure, are on the same page.

“As other European countries extend their renewable programmes to move away from nuclear and fossil fuels, it is more important than ever that the UK clarifies its plans to support the development of renewable energy infrastructure. If not, we could see the inward investment that we require moving elsewhere.”

The British Plastics Federation said the European move away from nuclear may mean a rise in fuel prices. Director general Peter Davis said: “Germany will also need to suck in huge extra amounts of fossil fuel, thus raising the prices across Europe for everyone. It’s important the UK speeds up the replacement of our ageing nuclear reactors.”

But he added that a steep rise in energy cost may present business opportunities for other markets: “This could drive car assembly and energy-intensive industries such as chemicals to lower cost countries, and might be an opportunity for the UK.”

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