Aberdeen City EfW Project - preferred bidder announced

26 FEBRUARY 2019 by Will Date, Lets Recycle 

Acconia and Indaver favoured for Aberdeen EfW contract

A consortium involving the construction company Acconia and waste firm Indaver has been named as the preferred bidder for a contract to build and operate an energy from waste plant in Aberdeen.

The ‘Ness Energy Project Residual Waste Treatment’ contract is being procured by a partnership of three north east Scottish local authorities: Aberdeen city, Aberdeenshire and Moray councils.

Artists impression of the 150,000 tonnes per year East Tullos facility

Consortia comprising FCC and the energy from waste specialist HZI, MVV and Baumgarte, and a Suez partnership with the industrial engineering group CNIM had also been involved in the procurement.

The contract will see the development of a £150 million energy from waste plant in the East Tullos area of Aberdeen, which is due to come online by 2022.

Linked to a heat network, the facility will use moving grate technology and have the capacity to process a total of 150,000 tonnes of waste per year.

Consortium

Spanish-owned construction firm Acconia has also recently been awarded a contract to develop a 400,000 tonnes-per-year capacity energy from waste plant in Perth, Australia.

The Ness Energy contract would represent an additional gain for the pan-European business Indaver in the UK market, which has recently expanded its presence in the UK through an agreement to work on the Rivenhall energy from waste project in Essex (see letsrecycle.com story).

Indaver’s energy from waste plant at Doel in Belgium (Picture: Indaver)

Indaver is currently involved in a project to develop a £250 million waste incinerator in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, on behalf of Arc21 and has planning permission for an incinerator in Cork, Ireland at Ringaskiddy, as well as operating plants in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Acciona will act as the lead contractor as part of the Ness Energy deal and will form a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’ to deliver the construction of the facility within the three year works period. Acciona will then subcontract the operation and maintenance of the facility to Indaver, for a 20-year services period.

A final decision on whether to proceed with the project will be taken individually by the three Scottish councils in early March. Each council will be asked to approve the recommendation to award and the inter-authority agreement which defines how the councils will work together. The contract is then expected to be signed shortly after.

Residual waste

According to documents released ahead of a meeting on the proposals next week, the main factors influencing the decision were the “balance of cost and risk for developing an EfW facility in the region managed by the three councils against the export of waste to EfW facilities elsewhere, most likely in Europe.”

The councils are seeking to secure a long term outlet for residual waste ahead of a ban on sending biodegradable waste to landfill in Scotland from January 2021.

“This is a significant project for the north east and shows what can be achieved when councils work together.“


Linda Ovens
Project director

Project director, Linda Ovens, said: “Reaching this point in the procurement is testament to the effort and hard work afforded by the project team and the bidders involved. I’m delighted that we have identified a high quality, affordable solution for the councils and look forward to finalising the details with Acciona over the coming months.

“This is a significant project for the north east and shows what can be achieved when councils work together.“

Ramón Jiménez, from Acciona, said: “This project is an important milestone for Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, and Moray councils, as it will provide a more efficient and clean waste management system in line with European emission standards.

“Acciona is committed to sustainability and the development of new clean technologies that contribute to making cities more livable. For this reason, we are proud to bring to the region our experience in the development of large-scale waste to energy projects and to contribute to the development of the Ness Energy project.”


Keeping the Lights on After Brexit: No-Deal's Impact on Energy

by Helen Robertson
Bloomberg 
Keeping the Lights on After Brexit: No-Deal's Impact on Energy
Keeping the Lights on After Brexit: No-Deal's Impact on Energy

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. will leave the European Union on March 29 and so far there’s no agreement to replace the rules and regulations that govern vital trade between Britain and the rest of the world. If a no-deal happens, here’s what it could mean for the country’s energy industry.

Will the Lights Go Out?

Almost certainly not. The amount of power the U.K. imports from continental Europe fluctuates but was 6.6 percent of total supply in the third quarter of 2018, according to government data. After Brexit, British electricity systems will be decoupled from the European Internal Energy Market.

That doesn’t mean gas and power will stop flowing, according to Joseph Dutton, a policy adviser at climate change think tank E3G, but trading could become less efficient and longer-term supply less certain, increasing costs for consumers. This would be especially true in times of unplanned supply interruptions or extreme weather.

There are four high voltage direct current (HVDC) interconnectors linking the U.K. electricity system to mainland Europe. The EU doesn’t currently charge import duties on electricity and has a small tariff of around 0.7 percent on natural gas, which it doesn’t apply in practice. If the U.K. exits the EU without a deal it would default to World Trade Organization rules for energy imports and exports. According to the majority of experts Bloomberg spoke with, tariffs aren’t expected to be placed on energy imports.

Brexit will happen after the end of peak winter demand, which will help mitigate any short-term risk of imported power flows being interrupted, and any potential issues would be resolved quickly, according to consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. A fall in sterling could increase the cost of energy imports, it said.

“We’re assuming the cost of electricity will rise, but we don’t know by how much or when,” Confederation of British Industry senior energy policy adviser Tanisha Beebee said in an interview.

The situation on the island of Ireland is more complicated because Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are part of a Single Electricity Market. A no-deal Brexit would potentially leave this “without any legal basis,” and “with a high risk that it would not be able to continue,” according to E3G.

The sudden separation of Northern Ireland’s electricity market from the south would be an incident without precedent. The SEM is so complex that it’s hard to see how anyone could impose customs rules over it, said Munir Hassan, partner at law firm CMS.

Still, Hassan was confident that the political will exists to ensure power continues to flow even if there’s no deal. “I’m a big believer that sense will prevail,” he said.

To ensure that any interruption to the flow of goods through U.K. ports doesn’t prevent vital maintenance work, some companies have already begun stockpiling equipment, Beebee told reporters at a briefing in London. That includes wind turbine blades and spare parts for power plants, she said.

Will North Sea Oil Suffer?

Some North Sea oil and gas operators have also begun looking into stockpiling vital equipment, according to Alan McCrae, head of U.K. tax for energy, utilities and mining for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC.

“Power generators, pumps, all sorts, blowout preventers,” said McCrae. “It would be key pieces of kit on a platform, that if something fails you can’t produce.”

Oil & Gas U.K., the offshore energy industry trade association, cites the example of importing equipment from Bulgaria before it joined the EU. It took four days to transport goods from the country into Aberdeen, where they could be delayed at the border for up to a week. Reverting to WTO rules could increase costs in the sector by 500 million pounds ($651 million) a year, the trade association said.

If essential equipment is delayed, temporarily halting oil and gas production, the effect on energy prices can be significant. In 2017, a small crack in the Forties oil pipeline system, a critical conduit in the North Sea, pushed crude prices to their highest level in more than two years as the operator needed weeks to fix the problem.

Operators are also concerned that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, any immigration restrictions could severely affect projects in the long-term if highly skilled workers they need aren’t able to live and work in the U.K. About 5 percent of the U.K.’s oil and gas workforce comes from the EU, according to Oil & Gas U.K.

In the long-term, the political uncertainty around Brexit could hurt investment, according to Wood Mackenzie. An aging oil province like the North Sea needs constant work to maintain output and “fiscal stability and cost certainty are critical” when competing globally for investment, it said.

Is the Fuel-Trade at Risk?

The impact on imports of crude oil and refined fuels looks relatively benign. The nation’s refiners wouldn’t experience any “day-one issues” in a no-deal scenario and would be able to avoid any supply chain “pinch points,” the U.K. Petroleum Industry Association said.

Under WTO rules there are no duties on crude oil imports, although VAT is charged at 20 percent, so the U.K. being out of the EU isn’t going to impact the oil industry “very much at all,” Lesley Batchelor, director general, Institute of Export & International Trade, said in an interview.

While imports look secure, there’s some uncertainty about crude exports to Asia. South Korea is currently a major buyer of U.K. oil because it has a free-trade agreement with the EU. There are few signs that the British government can arrange a deal to replace that by March 29. China also buys North Sea oil, but flows tend to depend on trading economics, so any lost demand from South Korea could be hard to replace.

What About Natural Gas?

The U.K. imports most of its natural gas from countries in the European Economic Area, which includes Norway. Norwegian pipelines remain the main source of U.K. gas imports, and accounted for 87 percent of incoming flows in the third quarter of 2018, according to government data. Liquefied natural gas and pipeline supplies from Belgium and the Netherlands make up the rest.

Access to natural gas supply isn’t expected to be affected if it exits the EU without a deal but trading could also become less efficient and less liquid.

Not everyone shares this view. John Wood, chief executive officer of energy infrastructure development firm InfraStrata, sees heightened gas-price volatility as likely. This will increase liquidity on the U.K.’s National Balancing Point gas hub as a result, he said.

“There shouldn’t be any material impact on the availability of gas to meet U.K.’s demand and supply requirement,” Wood said by email. “At the moment both the U.K. and Europe are witnessing a deluge of LNG cargoes primarily because, relative to the Far East, we are offering the highest prices.”

For gas exporters to Europe it could, however, have an impact. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, all U.K.-based natural gas shippers will lose the right to supply the French market, creating potential shortages and higher prices for French consumers if alternative arrangements aren’t in place, the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies said in a report.

French energy giant Total SA plans to move its natural gas trading operations from London to Geneva and Paris, although the company said this was not related to Brexit.

Jonathan Westby, co-managing director of Centrica Plc’s energy marketing and trading, said in an interview that the company already has a European trading base and so isn’t considering moving staff out of the U.K.

“Our preparations are just about how we make our existing business work,” Westby said. “We, like every U.K. company, are preparing for Brexit, putting in place measures to deal with whichever outcome. But the outcome is still uncertain.”

Going Nuclear

For nuclear power, Britain is setting a new safety regime that will maintain the industry’s ability to trade. It’s signing nuclear cooperation agreements with Australia, Canada and the U.S, allowing the U.K. to continue civil nuclear cooperation when the current European Atomic Energy Community, or Euratom, arrangements cease to apply in the U.K. The U.K. said Feb. 14 that it has all the replacement international agreements in place to ensure continuity in the civil nuclear trade.

Electricite de France SA, the operator of 15 nuclear reactors in the U.K., has negotiated with the British government to ensure that EDF employees, including those working on the Hinkley Point project, can seamlessly travel in and out of the country.


EV Charging solution from Connected kerb

Connected Kerb unveils ‘ground-breaking’ kerbside EV charging solution

Image: Connected Kerb.

Image: Connected Kerb.

The installation, completed on Borough Road in the London borough of Southwark, was supported by both Virgin Media and National Grid and constitutes the first of its kind in the UK.

The project has utilised Virgin Media’s underground fibre broadband cable areas and the telecoms provider’s broadband and wireless technologies to connect and offer consumers so-called ‘drive-up’ roadside charging and internet connectivity.

Connected Kerb said it was essentially able to turn ‘dumb’ charging point plugs hosted on residential streets into smarter, more versatile points that can be upscaled and upgraded as new technologies and applications emerge.

In addition, the kerbside chargers can also collect and provide environmental, weather and traffic monitoring data to local authorities that adopt them.

Connected Kerb won the Mayor of London’s Award for Urban Innovation last year and has since been working with a number of local authorities throughout the UK to expand its charging point network, building up to its maiden install, which was unveiled today (Tuesday 29 January 2019).

Paul Ayres, COO at Connected Kerb, said the acceleration of EV ownership had meant that the need for a nationwide EV infrastructure was now “critical”.

Connected Kerb’s intention is that today’s install will be just the first in a much wider roll-out of kerbside EV chargers in London and beyond.


UK EV Charging Infrastructure

Zouk Capital named preferred bidder to run government-backed EV Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund

Image: Chargepoint.

Image: Chargepoint.

The £400 million fund – half of which will be raised from the private sector and matched by the UK government – was announced in the 2017 Autumn Budget amongst a raft of other measures designed to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in the UK.

The CIIF was launched in a bid to both enable the more rapid expansion of public EV charging networks and to stimulate further capital investment in the sector, with the government aiming for the fund to act as a catalyst for further investment.

A bidding process was launched by HM Treasury’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority last summer, inviting tenders from investment managers to be tasked with either the entire CIIF or a section of it.

The detailed tender process was initially expected to have concluded before the end of last year, however Current± reported in December that the level of interest in the fund had seen the IPA nudge the awarding of the contract into the New Year.

However, having now elected Zouk Capital as the preferred bidder, it is still expected that, subject to negotiations, the fund will launch in the spring.

The fund is to be invested in by UK companies and platforms that comprise “all elements” of public EV Charging infrastructure with the ultimate aim of delivering attractive returns for both HMG and its private sector investors.

Exchequer secretary to the Treasury Robert Jenrick described the announcement as a “crucial step” in the government’s environmental plans.

“We want to increase the number of electric cars on our roads, but to achieve this we need to ensure drivers have access to the right infrastructure, including charge points.

“That’s why the Chancellor announced £400 million of investment to make this a reality, revolutionising the way we travel, creating jobs and protecting our natural environment for future generations.”

Samer Salty, managing partner at Zouk Capital, said the CIIF placed the UK government at the international forefront of supporting EV ecosystems.

"This fund will build a lasting public EV charging network that runs on clean energy, is fully open access and highly reliable to meet the needs of EV drivers today and give those yet to join the EV revolution the confidence to do so,” he said.


‘Economically’ could be dropped from TEEP

12 FEBRUARY 2019 by Steve Eminton - letsrecycle.com

A major and potentially controversial change to the regulations governing the sorting of waste for recycling is being proposed, with the removal of the word “economically” from the TEEP requirements.

The TEEP regulations are part of rules around the collection of waste for recycling and are an essential part of Duty of Care and other legislative requirements in the UK. They require separate collections (typically by material), but this doesn’t have to happen if it can be shown that one or more of three factors apply – technically, environmentally and economically practicable – so that there is a valid case for not collecting separately.

TEEP requirements set out how councils must weigh up the different options for collecting recyclables from householders

The European Union notes that TEEP stands for technically, environmentally and economically practicable and Commission guidance on the topic is available – European Commission guidance (paragraphs 4.3.4 and 4.4).

TEEP

The TEEP rules have been poorly enforced in the UK and have caused a considerable amount of angst and confusion within the waste sector and among local authorities.

At the end of last month (January 2019) recycling and resource minister Dr Therese Coffey suggested there would be changes to the TEEP rules, via implementation of the Resources and Waste Strategy (see letsrecycle.com story). She said: “A lot of councils are already required to collect a number of materials, but they can use an exemption called a TEEP exemption and in effect my intention is to remove that excuse not to collect at home what people can and should be recycling.”

While they were introduced originally by the European Union, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) itself stopped short of giving any guidance on the topic and many local authorities researched the matter with the involvement of consultants. However, TEEP is given as a current requirement by Defra in waste legislation.

Sorting

When TEEP was brought in there were fears among some operators of materials recycling facilities that the requirements could lead to more kerbside sorting and collections of separated material, despite investment in sorting technology at MRFs and the belief that commingled collections can lead to higher recycling rates and be more appropriate in some areas.

Now, in the policy change, it looks as though the regulations will become TEP – technically and environmentally practicable – in England and likely in Wales too.

Environment Agency official Pandora Rene told conference delegates last week that ‘Economically’ will be dropped as a requirement from TEEP

The changes to TEEP are expected to be contained within a consultation document on “Consistency in Collections” being published shortly by Defra as part of its suite of consultations over the Resources and Waste Strategy.

Giving details of the TEP proposal, senior Environment Agency official, Pandora Rene, told delegates at last week’s MRF conference in Solihull that “we’re going to take the economic bit out of TEEP.”

Cost

Such a move would seem to imply that, even if it cost more to collect more recyclables separately at the kerbside, Defra would see this as an acceptable option to help meet higher recycling targets unless it was not technically and environmentally practicable. However, under future financing schemes for local authorities, the consultation papers will propose that councils recycling more materials will receive money from a variant of the current PRN producer responsibility system, to help fund more recycling, so extra local authority costs could be paid for by packaging firms, for example.

Positive

Overall, the MRF conference portrayed a positive future role for MRFs with commingled streams to be sorted and the options for MRFs to be flexible on sorting different types of materials such as paper or separating plastics and metal.

  • Mrs Rene noted that Defra “was worried about not enough resources being directed at the MRF regulations” and that from 1 April 2019 a change in the Agency’s structure would see new national pan-area teams created to better deliver regulatory work. From 1 April 2019 four non-site-based waste regimes will be delivered by a national model of Pan Area Teams (PATs) reporting to ORS (Operational Regulatory Services). The four regimes are: Producer Responsibility; International Waste Shipments; Separate Collections; and Materials Recycling Facilities.

RDF exports decline in 2018

Exports of waste derived fuels – RDF and SRF – from England to energy from waste facilities overseas appear to have fallen during 2018, provisional figures published last week suggest.

Analysis of the data on international waste shipments released by the Environment Agency for the 12 months to the end of 2018, suggests that as much as 300,000 tonnes less was exported during the year compared to 2017 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Figures based upon provisional Environment Agency data (click to enlarge)

In total the figures – which may be subject to change – suggest that 2,898,707 tonnes of RDF and SRF were exported during 2018, compared to 3,200,787 tonnes in 2017.

A drop in exports has somewhat been anticipated by industry experts. It comes after a number of years of strong growth in exports of waste as a fuel, as companies seek to move away from landfilling material – taking advantage of demand for waste feedstock from facilities overseas, particularly in the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia.

In more recent years RDF exports from England have been levelling out as more opportunities arise on the domestic market and energy from waste facilities in European countries reach their capacity.

Market

Analysis of the figures suggests that the Netherlands continues to be the largest destination for exported RDF and SRF from England, receiving 1.28 million tonnes during the year. However, this represents a decrease from the 1.54 million tonnes exported in 2017.

Table showing some of the largest recipients of RDF & SRF from England (click to enlarge)

Sweden and Germany also remained prominent markets for RDF and SRF, receiving 540,040 tonnes and 495,680 tonnes respectively.

Other prominent destinations for RDF and SRF from England included Norway, Denmark, Latvia, Cyprus, Poland, Bulgaria, Portugal, Greece, France, Finland, Spain and Belgium.

In terms of facilities receiving the waste – AEB’s 1.4 million tonnes-per-year capacity energy from waste plant in Amsterdam is the largest individual recipient of material, consuming around 245,000 tonnes of waste from England alone.

Exporters

AEB

The AEB facility in Amsterdam – which the figures indicate is the largest individual consumer of RDF from England

On an exporter level, the figures suggest that the Norwegian-owned waste fuels specialist Geminor has overtaken Biffa as the largest exporter of fuels, to top the table by exporting 363,366 tonnes of RDF in 2018.

Biffa, which has topped the table for the past four years, exported 350,167 tonnes over the year 2018 – a drop from 460,383 tonnes for 2017. This was followed closely by N&P at 334,154 tonnes.

Other companies to export over 100,000 tonnes during the year were Suez (302,393), Seneca (166,773), FCC (162,870), Veolia (158,206), Berling Enviro (147,492), Andusia (146,620) and Renewi (138,355).

Out of the total 2.9 million tonnes exported, 322,467 of this was reported as solid recovered fuel (SRF). This shows that the rate companies are diversifying into SRF continues to rise – up from 186,191 tonnes in 2017.


UK's Drax Power Station begins carbon capture project

In a press release on February 7, Britain's energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry said, "This innovative technology has the potential to make huge strides in our efforts to tackle climate change while kick-starting an entirely new cutting-edge industry in the UK." The giant Drax power station near Selby in North Yorkshire burns seven million tons of wood chips annually to generate electricity. The company has invested £400,000 in a pilot project that will capture one ton of carbon dioxide a day during the pilot. If everything goes according to plan, the technology could be scaled up to capture 50 million tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2050 - nearly half the country's target says the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering. Drax has already become the largest decarbonization project in Europe after it upgraded two-thirds of its generating units from coal to use biomass.

DRAX Power Station in Drax North Yorkshire.

DRAX Power Station in Drax, North Yorkshire.

Paul Glazzard

C-Capture technology Carbon dioxide is captured at the Drax plant using Leeds-based C-Capture's innovative technology. The company was formed in 2009 as a spin-out from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Leeds. The technology is called Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS). C-Capture approaches carbon capture and storage (CCS) a little differently than what is being done now. Current practices basically use amines to capture the CO2, holding it in an aqueous solution. The solution is then heated up to 120 degrees Centigrade where the CO2 is returned to its gaseous state, allowing it to be stored. C-Capture uses an amine-free solvent to capture CO2. Once the CO2 has been ‘captured’ it can then be released as a pure stream and transported for safe, long-term storage or used in other manufacturing processes. This innovative technology can also be used for other applications including the capture of CO2 from other large point source emitters, such as cement plants and steel plants.

The Peterhead Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project in Aberdeenshire UK.

The Peterhead Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project in Aberdeenshire, UK.

Penn Energy

The pros and cons of CCS The BBC outlines very nicely how Carbon Capture and Storage works: When a forest grows, the trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it to make their wood. If you burn that wood, the process doesn't emit any extra CO2 into the atmosphere—because the trees removed it from the air in the first place. It's called carbon neutral. If you go one step further by capturing the CO2 from wood burning, you're actually reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere overall. Proponents of CCS argue that we need to do something to get the CO2 out of the atmosphere in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change. The CO2 can be stored and later used for other purposes. Many scientists are onboard the technology because they say the politicians are not doing enough to limit the effects of a warming planet.

Kemper CCS power plant in Kemper County Mississippi.

Kemper CCS power plant in Kemper County Mississippi.

XTL1V0010

The arguments against CCS are also reasonable. Critics argue the technology is too expensive to implement on a large scale for it to be commercially viable. "One way to reduce coal's impact is to capture, compress and bury its emissions—but it's much simpler, cheaper and safer to simply leave the coal in the ground," Simon Holmes à Court, a senior adviser to the Energy Transition Hub at Melbourne University, wrote in the Guardian. Looking specifically at the Drax project, critics point out the company burns about 7 million metric tons of wood chips - mostly from the southern U.S. to generate six percent of the UK's electricity. While technically, trees are a renewable resource, a large amount of land is needed to renew this resource and harvesting trees also disrupts wildlife that depends on forests. "We must be cautious of technologies that aim to remediate the carbon problem while greatly expanding our impact on the land," Harvard University professor David Keith warned to the BBC.


EUROPE’S WASTE PROBLEM IN NUMBERS

Newly released data shows little to no progress in reducing waste across the EU.

EU countries generated 487kg of waste per person in 2017, according to Eurostat. That’s only eight kilograms less than the 496kg generated in 1997, when figures were first compiled.

The analysis considers all the waste generated by households and offices.

Figures reached a peak of 524kg per person in 2007 and a low point of 479kg per person in 2013, when they began growing again.

With over 600kg per person, GermanyDenmarkCyprusLuxembourg and Malta generated the most waste across the EU.

The primary objective for EU countries is to reduce waste, according to the European Commission’s strategy to transition to a circular economy, where waste is prevented and materials are recycled.

Zero Waste Europe told META: “Over the past few years, waste generation rates in the EU have been stagnating if not slightly increasing. Recycling is not enough – to lead Europe into a genuine circular economy, we need binding waste prevention targets.”

 

The growing amounts of waste raise financial, health and environmental concerns.

When not collected for recycling, our rubbish ends up being burned or sent to landfill, which can be a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

More waste also means more costs for collection and increasing logistical efforts – something that municipalities are not always able to ensure. This may result in rubbish piling up in the streets, especially in countries with poor recycling infrastructure.

But the biggest problem with waste is its indirect contribution to climate change, according to environmental experts. The amount of rubbish we generate reflects the production patterns in our economy. In short, the more products and materials we waste the more energy and resources we’ll need to produce new ones.

Cutting waste can have a massive impact on climate change, as less production means fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Savings (negative values) of greenhouse gases or contribution to greenhouse gases (positive values) through waste prevention, recycling/composting or disposal of mixed waste (Source: EUNOMIA)

According to the research group Eunomia, the potential for CO2 emissions savings is much greater when waste is prevented rather than recycled. This is because of the additional energy and resources required to recycle materials.

Where does all this waste go?

Eurostat has also updated its latest figures for waste management. Overall in the EU, 30% of the waste was recycled, 17% composted, 28% incinerated and 24% landfilled in 2017.

Despite an increase in recycling and a steady decline in landfilling, the report shows that waste incineration has sharply increased over time – 74kg per person in 1999 as opposed to 133kg in 2017.

Incineration, which includes the practice of converting waste into energy, is one of the biggest challenges for waste management according to Piotr Barczak, a waste expert with the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). He said:

Europe’s priority is to reduce waste. But this is difficult when our governments spend billions of euro to build or renovate incinerators which need large amounts of mixed waste to serve their purpose and justify the investment.” He added:

“Until we stop funding incinerators, we’ll continue to generate and burn waste at the expense of prevention and recycling.”

EEB@Green_Europe

Listen to the second META podcast! We talk about the costly renovation of a waste incinerator in Paris with @ZeroWasteFR https://meta.eeb.org/2019/01/24/one-billion-euro-up-in-smoke-meta-podcast/ 

One billion euro up in smoke? – META podcast

The costly renovation of a waste incinerator in Paris has been met with anger and dismay. This week, META speaks to Thibault Turchet, head of legal affairs at Zero Waste France (ZWF), who has led t…

meta.eeb.org

See EEB's other Tweets

 

However, Barczak also warned that waste management data is difficult to compare because member states are still using different methodologies for their calculations.

Last year, a study by Eunomia revealed that the world’s leading recycling countries are overstating their level of recycling.


UK carbon capture project begins

Drax
Image caption The project aims to capture one tonne per day of CO2

The giant Drax power station, near Selby in North Yorkshire, has become the first in Europe to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from wood-burning.

Drax burns seven million tonnes of wood chips each year to drive generators to make electricity.

The firm has now begun a pilot project to capture one tonne a day of CO2 from its wood combustion.

The technology effectively turns climate change into reverse on a tiny scale, but it’s controversial.

How does it reverse climate change?

When a forest grows, the trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it to make their wood.

If you burn that wood, the process doesn’t emit any extra CO2 into the atmosphere - because the trees removed it from the air in the first place. It’s called carbon neutral.

If you go one step further by capturing the CO2 from wood burning, you’re actually reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere overall.

In an ideal world you’d go one step further by creating useful products from the waste CO2.

Why is it needed?

This technology is known as Bio Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS).

Many scientists believe it will be needed because they don't trust politicians to curb the CO2 emissions that are over-heating the planet.

They say that unless carbon emissions start falling dramatically, we will overshoot the recommended safety limit of a 1.5C rise in global temperature.

Image caption Drax's is one of several different approaches to carbon capture

Carbon capture sounds smart – why is it controversial?

There are two main reasons for controversy.

First is the impact on the plants and animals living on the huge amount of land needed to grow the trees and plants needed to generate power on a wide scale.

Second is the amount of additional energy needed to capture and store the carbon.

Let’s just take the example of Drax.

The power station generates 6% of the UK’s electricity whilst burning seven million tonnes of wood a year – that’s more wood than is harvested in the whole of Britain. The majority of the supply comes from the US, where forests are expanding as small-scale farmers allow unprofitable land to go back to nature.

Drax says most of its fuel is residue from forest industries – that’s offcuts and unsuitable trees for timber.

A previous BBC investigation found that some of the wood almost certainly also comes from species-rich swamp forests in the southern US.

What if the world wants to generate carbon neutral energy by burning wood?

This is where the numbers get a bit mind-boggling.

One estimate suggests that a staggering amount of land would be required to make BECCS feasible under the Paris climate agreement — perhaps as much as three times the area of India.

Harvard University professor David Keith warned: “We must be cautious of technologies that aim to remediate the carbon problem while greatly expanding our impact on the land.”

That impact will depend on many variables, such as whether the wood is so-called “waste”; whether it comes from plantation forests or natural forests; how its removal from the forest reduces the amount of material that will lock up carbon in the soil; how it’s transported – and more.

How does the carbon capture work?

Image copyright PA
Image caption Drax generates 6% of the UK's electricity

Drax is trialling a new system devised at Leeds university. Most existing carbon capture technologies use a chemical in the amine group.

It is drizzled down through a flue gas chimney, where it absorbs the CO2. A further process separates the CO2 from the amine, which can be re-used.

The Drax experiment is working with a tech spin-off called C-Capture. It uses an organic solvent which it says is less toxic than amine and uses less energy.

It’s one of several products on the market as chemists strive to find new ways of taking CO2 out of the air.

What do people say about the Drax experiment?

Andy Koss, CEO of Drax Power, admits that its carbon capture pilot is tiny – but says it's an important step towards getting the whole plant capturing its CO2 - and finding a market to use it.

“This is a really important technology,” he told us. “We are definitely going to need it if we want to keep within the 1.5C temperature limit proposed by scientists. "

Almuth Ernsting from the pressure group Biofuelwatch takes the opposite view. “Burning biomass is absolutely the wrong option for so many reasons,” she said. "Forests are vital for the health of the climate so we need to keep them not burn them.

"The Drax experiment is so ridiculously tiny it’s hard to believe it’s not 'greenwash'."

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A Future with Hydrogen?

Published Monday, January 14, 2019

With a global shift to clean energy growth, is hydrogen part of the decarbonising solution? In this article we explore what’s driving the need for change and some of the work underway to test the vision of a future with hydrogen.

Carbon dioxide levels are at their highest in 650,000 years1. Arctic sea ice is dropping by an average of 12.8 percent per decade2 and other impacts range from extreme weather events and rising sea levels, to increasing ocean acidification and global temperature rise.

In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a warning about the serious threat posed by climate change and the considerable difference in the impacts that we can expect to see with 1.5 and 2 degrees of warming. The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC highlighted that limiting global warming to 1.5ºC requires rapid and far-reaching changes in all aspects of society, including land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities.

As Jacobs grows its sustainability work, we continue to partner with clients around the world exploring opportunities to deliver a more sustainable and equitable society and protect our natural ecosystems. No matter the challenge, we’re providing deep technical and market knowledge and digitally-enabled solutions to help tackle some of the world’s big issues. Particularly, in cities spaces where there are tough challenges around air quality, connectivity, mobility and placemaking.

The U.K.’s Climate Change Act 2008 has a 2050 target to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent of 1990 levels. With heat being the most difficult decarbonization challenge facing the U.K., meeting this target implies decarbonising nearly all heat in buildings and most industrial processes. This is driving different initiatives, fuels and technology combinations to be explored to see which have the potential to make a significant contribution.

The U.K. Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) set up its Energy Innovation Portfolio to accelerate the commercialization of innovative, clean, cost-effective and reliable energy technologies by the mid-2020s. It’s looking at innovation needs across nuclear, renewables, lower carbon and more energy efficient industry and residential and other priorities.

The potential of large-scale hydrogen conversion to significantly reduce carbon emissions

Heating and cooling U.K. homes accounts for about half of all energy consumption and a third of carbon emissions. And about 80 percent of homes use natural gas (methane) for heating and cooking3. One of the options being explored is to replace methane with hydrogen, as hydrogen releases no carbon dioxide when converted to heat. A U.K.-wide conversion to hydrogen gas could reduce heat emissions by at least 73 percent as well as supporting decarbonisation of transport and localized electrical generation4. This offers a major step towards meeting the U.K.’s carbon reduction targets. BEIS is considering several options, from how hydrogen could be produced sustainably at scale, through to what it would cost to change. With experience across hydrogen production, transmission and transportation, Jacobs is part of this cutting-edge work, involved in a series of projects that offer the potential to deliver world firsts.

BEIS commissioned Jacobs, along with partners Element Energy and Cardiff University, to complete analysis on the potential use of full hydrogen for industrial appliances, as part of the Hy4Heat program. The Hy4Heat feasibility study is exploring whether it is technically possible and safe to replace natural gas with hydrogen in residential and commercial buildings and gas appliances. The team is investigating the potential future conversion of industrial heating appliances to hydrogen, including costs, technical and commercial requirements, timeframes, safety and other considerations. This specific work package will provide an evidence base for the Hy4Heat program, inform future government decisions regarding potential energy pathways and outline the kind of hydrogen trials and appliance development work required, ahead of any potential decisions around industrial conversion to hydrogen.

The ground-breaking “H21 North of England (NoE) report” released (November 23) in the U.K., sets out how 3.7 million homes and 40,000 businesses in the north of England, currently heated by natural gas, could be converted to hydrogen and made emission-free by 2034. Northern Gas Networks (NGN) and Cadent, in partnership with Equinor, have developed a H21 North of England concept design study. Jacobs provided technical expertise relating to hydrogen pipeline modelling to this detailed plan for the decarbonisation of circa 14 percent of U.K. heat through conversion of the North of England. The full NoE report also provides a vision for rollout of the hydrogen economy across the U.K. This important study explores how an expansion of the hydrogen economy could work and informs future strategies for a range of challenges to create a new era in low carbon heat and transport for the U.K. More information is available here.

The availability of low-cost bulk hydrogen in a gas network could transform the potential for hydrogen vehicles and, via fuel cells, support a decentralised model of combined heat and power and localized power generation.

Leveraging our expertise in hydrogen, reformer technology and CO2 capture, Jacobs’ work in this area is not confined to the U.K. We are also providing a feasibility study for Equinor to evaluate the possibilities for building a hydrogen production plant, including CO2capture, liquefaction and export facilities, at Eemshaven in the Netherlands. The hydrogen will be supplied as fuel to an existing natural gas-fired power plant that will be converted into a hydrogen-fueled power plant designed to lower the plant's carbon emissions at a large scale and to a future hydrogen market via a hydrogen pipeline and storage facilities. The liquefied CO2 will be shipped to Norway for off-shore storage.

Collaboration of expertise, innovation and vision is crucial to accelerating energy transition and developing sustainable economies that are more climate-friendly and less energy-consuming. Our Netherlands operation joined the Dutch Energy Transition Coalition in 2017 as businesses came together to support the acceleration of energy transition across the country.

Hydrogen’s role in the future of transport 

With approximately 70 percent of the world population forecast to live in urban areas by 2050, fast and reliable transport connectivity, both within and between urban areas, is essential for the movement of people and goods, and ensuring geographical distribution of growth. The challenge for city leaders is to lay down the frameworks which allow this development to take place. With city congestion at an all-time high, air pollution is an increasing concern – and hydrogen offers the potential of another alternative as a low-carbon transport fuel in the future. Hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles convert compressed hydrogen into electricity to power the electric motor.

Published last year, Shell’s study5 on the future of hydrogen in the transport sector, jointly produced with the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, said that in 2050, 113 million fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) could save up to 68 million tonnes of fuel and almost 200 million tonnes of carbon emissions, making a significant contribution to reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions in the transport sector.

Exploring hydrogen-powered train technology, for example, Jacobs recently worked on a Hydrail Feasibility Study Report with Metrolinx, a Government of Ontario (GO) agency that manages and integrates regional transportation planning in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. With the support of Ernst & Young Orenda Corporate Finance Inc. and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, the Jacobs-led team determined it is technically feasible to use Hydrogen Fuel Cells (HFCs) as a power source for electrifying the GO rail network, which carries more than 70,000 passengers annually.

Taking the green hydrogen economy one step closer to be circular

The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) also just launched a new project to explore how circular economy approaches can be applied to optimise the efficiency of hydrogen production and stimulate the development of a local oxygen market in Orkney. The project aims to identify potential applications for the commercial use of oxygen and heat as by-products of the hydrogen production process, ultimately developing a circular business model for hydrogen. The work is being supported by Zero Waste Scotland and delivered by Jacobs as part of the circular economy business support service, an initiative supported by funding from both the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund through the $92 million (£73m) Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme.

EMEC has been producing ‘green’ hydrogen since 2017 using renewable energy from local wind and tidal resources to power an electrolyser, splitting water into its chemical components: hydrogen and oxygen. However, the cost of producing hydrogen is high as roughly one third of input energy is lost as oxygen and low-grade heat during production.

This cost is driving business innovation to increase the efficiency and circularity of the process by identifying end applications for heat and oxygen by-products. Local industries such as aquaculture, horticulture, diving, health and aviation all use oxygen as part of daily business. Integrating locally produced oxygen into the supply chain will increase island resiliency and reduce the environmental impact of businesses currently getting oxygen delivered from the U.K. mainland.

1 www.ncdc.noaa.gov/indicators/
2 www.jpl.nasa.gov/news
3 & 4 Hy4Heat
5 Shell - The energy future, hydrogen