Energy from waste can supply 50% renewable energy target by 2020

The study “Renewable energy, landfill gas and energy from waste: now, next and future,” by the Centre for Resource Management and Efficiency at Cranfield University also claimed that there is very good potential in using biomethane derived from landfill gas and anaerobic digestion as a fuel in road vehicles.

It also said that deploying small-scale energy from waste at community level could make an important role – as long as public dislike of incinerators could be overcome.

Based on the study, incentives such as discounted energy tariffs and free domestic hot water for people living near energy from waste plants could assuage public opposition.

Authors Kofi Apea Adu-Gyamfi – a Cranfield graduate – Dr Frederic Coulon and Dr Raffaella Villa concluded that Energy from Waste technologies could contribute up to 50% UK renewables target by 2020 – although said this depends heavily on the pace of investment.

They called on the government to do more to catch up with European leaders Italy, Germany and Sweden, citing the “substantial” savings in greenhouse gas emissions.

The report said: “Energy from Waste technologies can make significant contributions towards achievement of the UK’s renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets. However, if these targets are to be met, concerted and sustained action is required from all stakeholders.”

Using biomethane as a road vehicle fuel was deemed “easily implementable” and inexpensive. The report stated that biogas could be upgraded to biomethane for relatively little, while the technology could be retrofitted onto cars for between £1,000 and £2,000 per vehicle.

Biomethane use for road transport is common outside the developed world, the authors claimed, with Pakistan, Argentine, Brazil and Iran accounting for 65% of global market share, but it has yet to catch on at the same scale in Europe due to a lack of refuelling infrastructure and fears over the safety and reliability of biomethane.

However, availability of suitable feedstock was a concern, as the study noted the potential for over-capacity of treatment technologies such as anaerobic digestion and thermal energy from waste, which could result in feedstock shortages.

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