Keith Riley, a partner at BH EnergyGap LLP, is speaking at Siemens’ upcoming energy from waste event. He says the sector is vibrant, and changing fast, but it’s up to us to make the future as dynamic as the past…
Two years is not such a long time in the scheme of things, but it has passed in a flash. As a result, we think nothing much has happened, but how wrong we are. If no-one has noticed, we have had a general election for a start, and now face a government whose attitude to waste and environment is still to emerge. It is not only in the world of communications – with phenomena like the iPhone six outselling every phone ever made – where changes take place. In energy from waste (EfW) there has also been a lot going on.
Two years ago, PFI was on its way out, and with it, some significant EfW prospects came to an end. Now the realisation has struck that public procurements have slowed to a near halt. As a result, the EfW market is very different now than it was, even in 2013. We have seen the replacement of the Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) with Contract for Difference (CfD). Whilst this did not impact the waste combustion plants, the RO has been a game changer for the so called Advance Conversion Technologies (ACT) of pyrolysis and gasification and CfDs now encourages the co-development of EfW with heat networks. With the move away from public contracts for future EfW developments, incentives become key to having a financially viable project in what is now a much more competitive market – not helped by a rapid increase in export of RDF, experienced last year.
This has all led to a major technology shift. For years moving grate combustion dominated the EfW scene. It remains to this day the most common and demonstrably reliable method of thermal treatment and energy recovery from waste, but there is no doubt that gasification is now establishing itself as a serious contender.
Policy? What Policy?
We have a new Government, and in England we can expect more of the same. Defra has moved from being almost prescriptive in style under the Labour government to a position in England where over recent years the only policy seems to be no policy. Meanwhile, the three devolved administrations have continued to develop their plans, and the outcome of the English programme of EfW development has seen EfW plants emerging in Shropshire, Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Staffordshire, Peterborough, Leeds, North Yorkshire and elsewhere.
It is the illusion that nothing much has happened that makes planning for the future so important – because things do happen, and life develops and evolves. Where do we go from here? What are the developments moving forward? What technological advances are around the corner? These are the sorts of questions that need to be asked and discussed, and plans put in place to allow the evolution to continue. At the Siemens event at the Crystal on 16 June 2015 – Energy from Waste, Planning for Tomorrow – these sorts of questions will be asked and answered.
It is now two years since the last Siemens event of the same name took place and the plan this time is to review what has happened over the last two years in the industry and look forward to what is to come. Siemens has had a presence in energy from waste for many years and is known particularly for its turbines and control systems. Today, the Group can offer a near full range of scope for EfW plants, the notable exception being the boiler. So attendees at the Energy from Waste, Planning for the Future event can expect to hear relevant and informed discussion, and views from industry just not available from the traditional conference circuit.
EfW is alive and kicking. Lets make the future as exciting and dynamic as the past.