The Mayor of London’s record on delivering anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities in the capital has been criticised.
Assembly Green party member Jenny Jones highlighted a lack of AD plants in London and accused Boris Johnson of failing to make the most of opportunities to boost the green economy.
She said: “He has failed to get a single AD plant up and running. These plants could take London’s food waste and turn it into jobs by producing biogas that can be used to generate renewable electricity.”
Jones said that even though plans for AD plants around London were in the pipeline, provision would still be small: “Two have been granted planning permission, but even when operational they will have the capacity to only deal with one fifth of London’s annual 460,000 tonnes of food waste.”
Her comments follow the announcement of a working group to help advise the mayor on how to reach the target of at least 25% of London’s energy supplied from decentralised energy by 2025.
The working group has been set up following the mayor’s Electricity Summit, where energy industry bodies including UK Power Networks and regulator Ofgem discussed how to deal with the projected increase in electricity demand of 4% every year over the next decade.
The working group will be chaired by the deputy mayor for planning Sir Edward Lister and include representatives from network operators, the national grid, Ofgem, local authorities, government and the business sector. It will meet regularly to help advise the mayor to plan and promote short and long-term cost effective investment.
The GLA said the mayor was working with the energy industry to explore how local networks could become more effective and efficient by investing in decentralised energy, tapping into unused heat sources including waste and recycling plants in the capital, and opening up electricity supply licensing to allow smaller electricity generators to enter the supply market, creating an innovative and flexible energy network for the future.
Johnson said: “To maintain London’s reputation as the best big city in the world to do business as our population continues to grow, we must look at cost effective, sustainable ways to make sure our electricity supply can meet demand.”
Mick Fishwick, chief executive of TEG Group said both Johnson and Jones had made valid observations.
“It is true that London has a poor waste infrastructure but that goes back decades and fixing it doesn’t happen overnight. Also, Boris isn’t alone. Not many major conurbations have got adequate AD facilities,” he said.
“But it is slow and Jenny has a point about the need for more capacity. If anything she is understating it [Jones says 460,000 tonnes of food waste a year in London]. LWARB says there are 1.2 million tonnes of food waste a year in the greater London area so we need at least 10 AD or composting plants by 2020.”