The chief executive of Cory Riverside Energy has called for refuse exports to be taxed in order to help encourage the UK’s energy from waste (EfW) industry.
Speaking to Utility Week, Nick Pollard said a tax on refuse derived fuel (RDF) exports would “trigger the investment necessary” to increase EfW capacity here in the UK and signal to local authorities and other organisations that exporting waste is “not the preferred route for our nation”.
“The EfW sector has been somewhat overlooked by successive governments, and the industry has not promoted itself as well as it could have,” admitted Pollard.
“Residual waste generation is far higher than the treatment capacity onshore in the UK,” he added.”
“That means we are still putting residual material into landfill and we are shipping our waste abroad. We are paying for this pleasure and another nation is generating its green electricity from it. We are paying to send away a fuel.
“The government does not seem particularly alert to the economic or the carbon footprint implications for that. It’s quite obvious to me that when boroughs procure waste contracts, they appear equally relaxed as to whether it’s being shipped abroad, or whether they are paying to have that fuel used to generate power for our cities.”
Cory Riverside Energy’s EfW plant in East London generated 528 GWh of baseload electricity last year, which Pollard said is enough to power 160,000 homes.
In March, the company completed a £520m debt-refinancing package for the plant, which diverts more than 750,000 tonnes of waste from landfill a year.
“EfW is a relatively small proportion of the UK’s energy mix, but it’s an important portion,” added Pollard. “It processes millions of tonnes of residual waste, which otherwise is useless and goes to landfill.
“I don’t need government money,” he said. “I need a stable regulatory platform with a clear policy direction for processing in the UK. That would be a good thing for this country. It would beef up our infrastructure and make us less dependent on fossil fuel. To me, it makes sense for UK plc.”