Thursday, February 08, 2007

EU Incineration Debate: How Will it Affect Adoption of Anaerobic Digestion?

Incineration efficiency warning ahead of EU waste debate

Local authorities planning to use incinerators to divert waste away from landfill should check that proposals meet forthcoming EU energy efficiency criteria.

The warning which essentaily fires a shot across the bows of those promoting Incineration without Combined Heat and Power, came ahead of next week's European Parliament vote in Strasbourg, on a Directive that could shape the next 50 years of EU policy on waste management (Read the full article at news).

Carbon Emissions

Dr Jackson said she was fully supportive of more incineration being used, provided it was efficient. She derided the "out of date" views of her Conservative Party colleague Peter Ainsworth that there were still concerns with the health affects of incineration in the UK, now the EU Waste Incineration Directive is in force.

She said the only question concerning whether to use incineration – or recycling – was over its carbon footprint. The MEP for the South West suggested that both recycling and incineration of certain materials should be looked at by the government in order to minimise the emission of climate change-causing carbon.

It is believed that only one existing incinerator in the UK – in Sheffield – is in a position to meet the new EU energy efficiency criteria. This is because most plants do not generate heat for use in the community, only electricity, since the unpopularity of incinerators means they are rarely built close enough to neighbours that could use the heat.

The Directive includes measures that would classify energy-from-waste incinerators as recovery plants, rather than "disposal" facilities if they are sufficiently efficient at generating energy from waste being treated.


This also means that all the other major existing UK incinerators will not derive the benefits which would have followed for the re-classification to recovery plants.

This is good for Anaerobic Digestion I think.

It is my view that the more that the regulations discourage incineration - which may compete with Anaerobic Digestion for organic feedstock in the future - the better for the prospects of anaerobic digestion adoption. Anaerobic digestion plant will also of course (like incineration plants) themselves always be more efficient if provided with CHP (Combined Heat and Power).

The other aspect that will help anaerobic digestion is that if CHP has to be a part of the investment cost for an incinerator then the additional capital outlay for anaerobic digestion will not be so great. Again, this makes Anaerobic digestion more competitive with incineration.

However, I would like to know how one gets an Anaerobic Digestion Plant which processes waste (as opposed to bio-crops) defined as a recovery plant? Let's hope our politicians are also discussing thta one?

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