Major Review of Future of Transport in UK

19 March 2019, source edie newsroom

The Government has launched its biggest review into the future of transport, including how a £90m investment can spur new regulations that would improve the uptake of low-carbon mobility across UK towns and cities.

The review will attempt to modernise some laws established in the 1800s that are acting as a barrier to modernisation and innovation

The review will attempt to modernise some laws established in the 1800s that are acting as a barrier to modernisation and innovation

The Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy will funnel £90m into testing for how data innovations can connect with electric vehicles (EVs) to make urban journeys easier, safer and more reliable.

The review will explore what regulations could be introduced to boost the use of e-scooters and bicycle trailers for last mile deliveries – a move that could help reduce travel congestion and reduce transport emissions in urban areas.

The strategy forms a key part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy and sets out nine principles that will act as a blueprint for policy decisions going forward. These include safe, secure and guarded data against cyber threats; access for older people and those with visible and non-visible disabilities; and in line with the Government’s ambition for a zero-emission future.

Future of Mobility Minister, Jesse Norman, said: “We are at a potentially pivotal moment for the future of transport, with revolutionary technologies creating huge opportunities for cleaner, cheaper, safer and more reliable journeys.

“Through this strategy, the Government aims to take advantage of these innovations; connecting more people and bringing big benefits we hope for both the economy and the environment.”

The review will attempt to modernise some laws established in the 1800s that are acting as a barrier to modernisation and innovation. In particular, the review will focus on the secure use of data to make route planning and payment safer and simpler.

Last mile, last chance

In related news, the Government has also published a response to its Last Mile call for evidence, which outlines measures that will boost sustainability for last mile deliveries. More than £2m in funding to increase the uptake of e-cargo bikes has been confirmed through the Energy Saving Trust.

Commenting on the review, Zipcar’s general manager Jonathan Hampson said: “We want to go further, both in the adoption of car sharing as a mass market solution and towards a vision of a fully electric fleet by 2025. If we are to achieve these, there needs to be support from the Government in its Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy on two things. Firstly, direction on the role of car sharing in the urban environment.

“Secondly, a commitment to supporting fleets like ours to go electric. This includes, as a minimum, the maintenance of their plug-in car grant but also to the rollout of open access charging infrastructure.”

Zipcar UK has outlined its target to get 800,000 Londoners actively using 9,000 zero-emissions, shared cars in the capital by 2025. More than 250,000 UK residents are now signed up to use its service, with one-third of members having joined up since last January.

Earlier this month, the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) called for major taxation rethinks in order to create a low-carbon transport network fit for the future. Elsewhere, Public Health England (PHE) urged the Government to introduce more ambitious policies aimed at reducing air pollution and minimising its health impacts in cities, including a "redesign" of key urban areas and a ban on drivers idling outside school gates.


Renewables, EVs and whole-system strategy: Scotland unveils 2030 networks vision

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

Earlier this week the Scottish government unveiled its networks vision for 2030, detailing how the country’s energy networks will support the transition to decarbonised, decentralised resources over the next decade.

The vision essentially details how the government expects Scotland’s transmission and distribution networks to ensure the energy transition is inclusive of all bill payers, adopts a whole-system approach to be as synergistic as possible and to ensure smarter, local energy models are adopted wherever possible.

This will affect the transmission and distribution networks in different ways, with the government placing separate requirements on each.

Scotland’s transmission network will be engineered to reflect the system’s “changing dynamics”, featuring new infrastructure that ensures Scotland’s renewable energy ambitions are met, and with new and stronger interconnections between Scotland and Europe.

There will be more pressing requirements on Scotland’s distribution networks – managed by SSEN and SPEN – as they play a more critical role within a more decentralised power system.

Scotland’s vision requires distribution networks to possess sufficient capacity to meet demand for distributed generation, a managed Distribution System Operator (DSO) transition which engages and rewards consumers, new demand management platforms and technologies to alleviate peaks in demand and generation and a carefully navigated and the ability to help ensure investment can flow into EV infrastructure.

When it comes to how the next decade is managed or coordinated, the Scottish government has placed considerable importance on whole system planning, ensuring that electricity and gas network plans are coordinated to deliver as many benefits as possible.

A foreword written by Scotland’s energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said that the government’s vision highlighted the “growing complexity, technical challenges, structural changes and new technologies” which stood to “fundamentally alter the relationship between consumers and the networks”.

The vision has been well received by the renewables lobby, with Scottish Renewables chief executive Claire Mack applauding it for addressing the important role the networks will play in shifting towards a cleaner, smarter system.

“With the majority of our electricity now coming from renewable sources it is essential that the Scottish Government take an active role in networks policy and regulation if we are to meet our 2030 energy strategy objectives – particularly the target that 50% of all our energy should come from renewables by 2030.

“The Networks Vision places renewables at the heart of the energy transition and focuses on a whole system approach across heat, transport and electricity which will help facilitate the development of an infrastructure which benefits all Scotland’s communities.

Its publication was also welcomed by David Smith, chief executive at the Energy Networks Association, who narrowed in on the need for consumers to be placed at the heart of the energy transition.

“As we look towards the 2020s, the public must be at the heart of the government’s vision so we support the approach of looking at how the whole system works together to help reduce emissions and keep bills low. We agree that trials for options such as dedicated hydrogen networks will be vital to develop the solutions customers want.

“As new technologies like electric vehicles or smart hybrid heating systems are chosen, the networks are already changing the way they manage the system. We back the Scottish government’s vision for a low carbon gas network with roles for hydrogen and biomethane along with a smart, flexible electricity network to provide the best service for the public,” he said.


Gas Heating for New Homes Banned from 2025! - what does the industry say?

Spring Statement and low-carbon homes: the industry responds

Barny Evans, head of energy, waste and sustainable places, WSP: “The future of homes standard announcement, due in 2025, is welcome. It builds on the Committee on Climate Change’s report which called for all new homes to be all-electric from 2025. We have been calling for this since 2014 in our paper, Powering Ahead – Fast-Forward to the All-Electric City. We stand ready to contribute our expertise in this area, ensuring that the full benefit of the smart energy revolution is recognised and seized.  With close collaboration, WSP believes this standard could be brought in before 2025, to ensure it covers the 1 million new homes currently in the pipeline.

Charles Hardcastle, Head of Energy & Marine, Carter Jonas: “The introduction of a Future Homes Standard by 2025, so that new build homes are future-proofed with low carbon heating and energy efficiency solutions, is another positive commitment. However, additional information on how this will work in practice is required. We must ensure that the costs of covering these technologies and their deployment are not simply met by the consumer at the point of sale.

“The commitment to advance the decarbonisation of gas by increasing the proportion of green gas in the grid is imperative to help the UK meet its carbon commitment, however there was minimal context and little detail on how the Government are intending to implement this through new support mechanisms.”

Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary: “GMB calls on Parliament to reject this proposal until there is thorough public debate on the energy mix and who pays. We recognise the UK must up its game in respect of its climate change commitments under the Paris Treaty – but today’s announcement doesn’t sound well thought through. Who will pay the subsidies to investors for the low and zero carbon energy sources?

“Whilst there are some positive and very welcome announcements regarding decarbonising the gas grid  – with current government policy on new nuclear power stations and renewable energy all over the place, the  decisions on the UK’s future energy needs and mix must be properly debated. Gas will be essential to meeting UK energy demands for many years to come.

“Whilst GMB welcomes the direction of travel on greening the gas grid with ultra-low carbon gas such as hydrogen, it is fundamentally right that the UK public must be consulted first on decisions that are being made today, particularly because ultimately it is them who have to pay. This is another example of the demerger of economic and political questions and decision making. This is no longer an acceptable way of proceeding.”

Nick Molho, executive director, Aldersgate Group: “We look forward to seeing further details of the proposal to increase the proportion of green gas in the grid and the development of the Future Homes Standard. Cutting the carbon intensity of the gas grid and building new homes with low carbon heating and high energy efficiency standards are key low regret policies which will allow the government to learn by doing and avoid costly retrofits further down the line.”

Simon Daniel, chief executive,  Moixa: “The Chancellor’s proposals to tackle climate change and the launch of the Future Homes Standard are steps in the right direction. Further to this, UK leadership in electric vehicles and smart grid innovation present a fantastic opportunity to manage batteries to support more renewables.

“The end of feed-in-tariff, whilst a challenge, creates new opportunities for the Solar Export Guarantee to deliver innovative tariffs by utilities and is likely to increase the adoption of home energy storage in the coming months. We welcome additional policies to support this change.”

Bean Beanland, chair of the Ground Source Heat Pump Association: “The ground source heat pump industry is ready to meet the challenge with a proven and efficient technology that can deliver to homeowners and tenants the lowest operating cost and carbon solution. We look forward to working with the government and others to make this a reality by contributing to the training and standards that will be required to ensure the strongest possible consumer confidence and protection in this growing market.”

 

Maria Connolly, partner at law firm TLT: “With the Autumn Budget lacking concrete proposals for the clean energy sector and our efforts in tackling climate change, this Spring Statement is a positive development – especially on the back of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal earlier this month.

“The Chancellor appears to have got the message and has put forward several measures to promote clean growth.

“The introduction of a Future Homes Standard by 2025 to ensure that new build homes are future-proofed with low-carbon heating and the highest levels of energy efficiency certainly looks to be a good proposal, but we should also be looking at how we can better incentivise new housing developments to incorporate clean energy technologies such as solar PV or wind turbines, combined with storage capacity.”

Nick Blyth, Policy & Engagement Lead, IEMA: “It is noticeable that the leaders of our two main political parties have made recent (welcome) pronouncements on the environment.  School strikes and a wave of local Council’s declaring a Climate Emergency have elevated climate change up the political agenda.  However, in relation to the environment, some of the details behind the headlines don’t match the step-change needed. Within housing, announcements for a future homes standard by 2025, do not reverse earlier policy dismantling, such as the scrapping of the 2016 target for zero carbon homes. There appears to be no funding announcement to support public bodies to implement the welcome mandatory commitment on biodiversity net-gain.

“More generally, the environment continues to be framed as a problem to sort.   Clearly it is, but the economic opportunity is huge and in response, a transformative programme is needed.”

 

Ian MacFarlane, director, project finance at financial risk management consultancy JCRA: “Any direct government investment in domestic UK infrastructure, by way of a potential government sponsored Infrastructure fund, will definitely help to promote private investment for the UK. There is currently a very liquid funding market for infrastructure and anything that can encourage investment back into what should be an attractive UK pipeline, post Brexit, will be a good thing. This would go a long way to mitigate any perceived loss of the EIBs funding support.”


BEIS Updates on Brexit for the Energy Industry

Brexit updates

BEIS has put forward further updates on the possibility of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit in response to an earlier stakeholder engagement meeting. Among them:

Remit: Registered market participants (MPs), will not need to take any action to trade in GB, as Ofgem will unilaterally recognise  existing registrations. REMIT transaction data related to GB wholesale markets only will no longer be reported to ACER. Instead, there will be a review period post EU Exit, following which data will be reported to Ofgem, which will monitor the market using existing data sources. Ofgem registered MPs who are required to re-register with an EU NRA in order to trade wholesale energy products deliverable in the EU should begin the process now, consistent with ACER’s guidance.

Project TERRE: National Grid ESO is committed to Project TERRE. If there were to be an outcome whereby it cannot participate it will explore if there are any additional system and process arrangements that can be utilised which deliver elements of the functionality of the project.

Capacity Market: In a no deal scenario (and if the draft State Aid (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 are approved by Parliament) the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK will need to approve the grant of State Aid for the Capacity Market.

GDPR: If there is no deal data protection laws will change on 29 March. Organisations with branches, affiliates or a parent company in the EEA, or marketing  in the EEA, have to act. Workforce data as well as customer data must be protected and compliance may be enforced by any of the data protection authorities across EEA states. Guidance can be found on the government site and on the Information Commissioner’s Office’s site . The Information Commissioner also published a myth busting blog on how personal data will flow after Brexit here. More information from data-ready@culture.gov.uk

Emergency imports: Businesses are concerned about being able to import key components. In the short term government “has secured additional roll-on, roll-off ferry capacity for a small number of critical products”. This “very high threshold” includes items ”essential for the protection of life and limb in the UK, such as medicines and a small number of goods used by Critical National Infrastructure sectors.” BEIS says If you believe you have a critical good, used within a BEIS sector, email: freight.capacity@beis.gov.uk

Carbon emissions: The UK’s participation in the EU ETS will continue until the end of the Implementation Period. In a ‘no deal’ scenario the UK would leave the EU ETS and the government would introduce a Carbon Emissions Tax.  A ‘Carbon Emissions Tax technical note’ was published by HMRC alongside the Budget and provides further detail on how the tax would work. Longer term the government is exploring a range of carbon pricing options that are deliverable from 2021, including continuing to participate in the EU ETS after 2020, a UK ETS linked to an EU ETS, a standalone UK ETS or a carbon tax. The European Commission has stated in its Notice to Stakeholders that, as of the withdrawal date, accounts in the EU Emissions Trading System Union Registry administered by the UK will be inaccessible. Operators wishing to retain access to their allowances after the withdrawal date should open an account in another Member State’s Registry for this purpose, and should consider the amount of time this is likely to require. The risks from loss of registry access should also be considered in relation to any open futures, option or other derivative contracts and hedging positions for any allowances in the registry.

Horizon2020: The government has promised to maintain funding for UK organisations participating in Horizon 2020 projects until 2020. To apply for funding sign up here 

Webinars

The British Library are hosting webinars as a part of a Preparing for Brexit series delivered by BEIS. These are designed to help businesses prepare in the event of leaving the EU on Friday 29 March 2019 without a deal. The topics cover: regulations and standards, digital and data, importing and exporting, business legal requirements and intellectual property. Please see the details and links below.

Regulations and Standards – 10am-11am on 12 March 2019
https://www.bl.uk/events/webinar-preparing-for-brexit-regulations-and-standards-mar19

Digital and Data – 11am-12pm on 14 March 2019
https://www.bl.uk/events/webinar-preparing-for-brexit-digital-and-data-mar19

Importing and Exporting – 1:00pm-2:00pm on 18 March 2019
https://www.bl.uk/events/webinar-preparing-for-brexit-importing-and-exporting-mar19

Business Legal Requirements – 12:00pm – 1:00pm on 19 March 2019
https://www.bl.uk/events/webinar-preparing-for-brexit-business-legal-requirements-mar19

Intellectual Property – 11:00pm-12:00pm on 20 March 2019
https://www.bl.uk/events/webinar-preparing-for-brexit-intellectual-property-mar19


India moves to end plastic waste imports

7 MARCH 2019 by Will Date

India’s government has introduced changes to legislation that look to have effectively banned the import of plastic waste into the country.

In a statement issued yesterday (6 March), India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change announced amendments to its Hazardous Waste (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules – aimed at ‘strengthening the environmentally sound management of hazardous waste’ in the country.

Containers unloading in the port of Mumbai (picture: Shutterstock)

This includes a prohibition on the import of plastic scrap, outlined under the following: “Solid plastic waste has been prohibited from import into the country including in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and by Export Oriented Units (EOU).”

The statement added further: “The amendment has been done keeping into consideration the “Ease of Doing Business” and boosting “Make in India” initiative by simplifying the procedures under the Rules, while at the same time upholding the principles of sustainable development and ensuring minimal impact on the environment.”

The move is seen to be a blow to exporters of plastic waste for recycling, with India having become a key market for some grades of LDPE film and rigid bottles, particularly in light of import restrictions on low quality wastes in China.

Plastic

Indian authorities have previously clamped down on the import of plastic waste, including in 2016 when laws were changed to prohibit the import of solid plastic waste including PP and PET (see letsrecycle.com story).

However the laws were relaxed to allow operators in ‘Special Economic Zones’ to continue to import material. This appears to have now been reversed through this month’s rule change.

India’s move comes at a time of increasing scrutiny on plastics export markets, with a group of MPs having recently called for a “target of net zero exports of recyclable plastic packaging by 2030 at the latest” (see letsrecycle.com story).

However, the UK is largely dependent on sending plastic waste overseas for processing due to a lack of sufficient recycling capacity in the UK – coupled with a demand for secondary materials from manufacturing facilities outside of the UK.

Packaging recycling data published by the Environment Agency suggests that as much as 500,000 tonnes of plastic packaging was exported for recycling in 2018, compared to around 280,000 tonnes processed in the UK.


BEIS committee opens inquiry on energy sector investment

Does the government need a new approach to bring forward investment to deliver a low carbon, low cost energy system and secure energy supplies for the long term?

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has launched an inquiry to examine the outlook for energy investment, in the wake of recent decisions by Hitachi and Toshiba to halt new nuclear projects at Wylfa and Moorside and concerns over how the UK’s ‘nuclear gap’ for low carbon electricity can be filled.

It expects to look at the potential future financing of nuclear power, and concerns around foreign investors in this technology. The inquiry will also examine the challenges to raising finance in clean energy technologies such as renewables and storage.

Rachel Reeves MP, chair of the committee, said: ”In the wake of investment decisions over nuclear plants at sites such as Moorside and Wylfa, a giant hole has developed in UK energy policy. With coal due to go off-line, and the prospects for nuclear looking unclear, the government needs to set out how it will create the right framework to encourage the investment needed to plug the gap.

“…we will want to consider what more the Government needs to do to attract greater investment into financing future energy capacity, including renewables.”

The committee has invited written evidence to be submitted by 3 April.

Evidence is invited on potential investment across the energy sector, including power plants, system flexibility, and heat decarbonisation.

Submissions can be made on the Committee’s website.


Scotland’s waste dump failure ‘could give England £100m’

Scotland’s failure to ban waste dumping could give England a “£100 million landfill tax gift”, an industry body is warning.

The Scottish Environmental Services Association (Sesa), which represents waste companies, predicts that local authorities will not be able to meet the 2021 deadline set by the Scottish Government for ending the disposal of biodegradable waste in landfill sites.

As a result an estimated one million tonnes of “homeless” Scottish waste a year will “follow the line of least resistance” and be transported south to England where companies will have to pay landfill tax approaching £100 a tonne, Sesa says.

The purpose of the landfill ban is to help move Scotland towards a “circular economy” which minimises wastage and maximises resource use. It could also help cut climate pollution from rubbish rotting in landfill sites.

Sesa suggests that councils need to build more incinerators to burn waste and generate energy. But environmentalists and community groups oppose such plants as wasteful and polluting, arguing that the priority should be to boost recycling instead.

As part of its “zero waste” strategy, the Scottish Government wants a ban on landfill dumping of food, paper, garden and any other household waste that decomposes before 1 January 2021. The Convention of Scottish Local Authoritieshas already warned that “it seems unlikely that the 2021 ban will be fully achievable.”

According to the latest official figures, 45 per cent of Scotland’s 2.5 million tonnes of council-collected waste was dumped as landfill in 2017. Slightly more – 46 per cent – was recycled, with nine per cent being incinerated or disposed of in other ways.

There were eight local authorities who dumped more than half of their waste as landfill. Two councils – Glasgow and Na h-Eileanan Siar – disposed of 65 per cent or more of their waste in landfill sites, and had amongst the lowest recycling rates.

The two councils that have long used waste incinerators – Dundee and Shetland – had the lowest landfill dumping rates in 2017. But their recycling rates were also comparatively poor.

landfill

Sesa has expressed “deep concern” about Scotland’s “lack of preparedness” for the 2021 landfill ban. “Our research shows that Scotland lacks sufficient non-landfill treatment capacity to meet the ban’s current 2021 deadline,” the association said.

“Approximately one million tonnes of residual waste will have to find disposal outlets outside Scotland.”

Sesa pointed out that there was no landfill ban planned in England, but there was a landfill tax of £88.95 a tonne, due to rise to over £94 a tonne by April 2020.
“Restricting or banning certain materials can act as a great incentive to recover value from the waste we all produce – but it needs to be properly planned for,” said Sesa policy advisor, Stephen Freeland.

“Bringing this ban in too early before the infrastructure is built in Scotland to deal properly with the waste will simply mean the waste will follow the line of least resistance.”

This would mean higher haulage costs for councils and businesses, as well as a “hefty landfill tax bill”, Freeland told The Ferret.

“Or worse it will end up in the hands of waste criminals who cause misery for people, damage to the environment, and have a significant impact on UK finances.”

Sesa chairman, Michael Tracey, called for an “urgent review” of Scotland’s waste policy to accelerate investment in “non-landfill” capacity. “Bringing this ban in without giving enough time to build the right infrastructure to deal with the waste that will be banned from landfill and effectively “homeless” will be a costly mistake for Scotland,” he said.


Aberdeenshire urged to drop waste incinerator

Aberdeenshire Council is being urged to scrap plans for a new waste incinerator with warnings that it could be harmful to public health, the environment and the local economy.

The independent councillor for Mid Formartine, Paul Johnston, has lodged a motion for discussion at a council meeting on 7 March opposing building the £150 million incinerator near Torry in Aberdeen. He claimed the plant would undermine Scottish Government recycling policy and could be an economic failure due to changing legislation.

Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen and Moray councils are all due to decide in the next few days whether the controversial incinerator should get the go-ahead. Officials from the three councils are expected to recommend that councillors back the scheme.

The ferret subscribe narrow

Campaign groups have called the proposed plant an “unnecessary financial and environmental risk” that will need to be fed plastic and other materials for decades, materials they say should be recycled instead. Community councils said that their concerns had been “constantly ignored and dismissed”.

The plant’s operators, however, stressed that the incineration was necessary for waste disposal and energy, and promised it would be environmentally responsible and produce affordable energy.

Johnston’s motion, intended as a “preemptive strike” to try and block the incinerator, calls on the council to cease its involvement in the NESS Energy Project. This is a joint scheme by Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen and Moray councils to build a plant at East Tullos industrial estate to burn waste and generate energy.

The proposal won initial planning approval in 2016. The aim is to have the incinerator built and operational by 2021, when a Scottish Government ban on dumping waste in landfill sites comes into force.

The Ferret has reported concerns by the waste industry that Scotland may fail to meet the deadline for the landfill ban, resulting in a million tonnes of waste a year being transported to landfill sites in England.

But Johnston argued that the proposed incinerator would generate a large demand for waste that would act as a “perverse incentive” and damage moves to boost recycling and minimise waste. There were “high levels of risk” associated with regulation changes that could leave Aberdeenshire “with costs for an obsolete plant”, he said.

According to his motion, incinerators caused climate pollution and emitted “many toxins, pollutants and microscopic particles that can be harmful to human health and the natural environment.” He cited research suggesting that burning one tonne of waste produces around a tonne of carbon dioxide.

Johnston said that incineration was “contrary” to the Scottish Government’s policy for a “circular economy” introduced in 2016. The policy advocates maximising the lifespan of resources, reducing the need for raw materials and improving recycling.

Research for the UK government has predicted that a circular economy would create over 205,000 new jobs, reduce unemployment by 54,000 and offset 11 per cent of future losses in skilled employment.

Aberdeenshire Council was playing “a game of financial roulette with the health of people and the environment and the creation of a vast expensive white elephant,” Johnston told The Ferret.

“The only decision that the council should take given all the facts, regulation and evidence is to move forward towards recovery of materials in a circular economy rather than backwards to an old solution waiting to be phased out.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland suggested that Scottish government plans to introduce a deposit return scheme for plastic containers would make the economics of new incinerators look “more and more shaky”.

The environmental group’s director, Dr Richard Dixon, said: “The Aberdeen incinerator is clearly much bigger than it needs to be to deal with waste from the city and its neighbours, and in the future the operators will be importing waste from all over the north of Scotland to feed their monster.

“This plant should be abandoned. But if the council are not brave enough to do that, it should be halved in size.”

Shlomo Dowen, national coordinator of the United Kingdom Without Incineration Network, warned that “investing in new incineration capacity while the rest of society is moving towards recycling and the circular economy represents not only a backwards step but also an unnecessary financial and environmental risk.”

He added: “If one takes account of the huge costs to society of the emissions from incineration, both in terms of pollution and greenhouse gases, the numbers simply do not stack up.”

The Ferret reported in 2017 that eleven huge new waste incinerators were being planned across Scotland in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, Lothian, Fife and elsewhere, in addition to those already operating in Dundee and Shetland.

Catherine Cowie, secretary of Kincorth and Leggart Community Council, said that all community councils in close proximity to the proposed Aberdeen plant had objected to it being built. “Questions were constantly ignored when asked in steering group meetings,” she claimed.

Nigg Community Council also said that its views had been sidelined. Concerns had been “conveniently omitted from the minutes” during the consultation process, according to the council’s chair, Alan Strachan.

“Despite putting forward our objections, substantiated with evidence from some very prominent and learned experts, our objections and evidence were constantly ignored and dismissed,” he added.

NESS Energy, however, has emphasised that modern plants are not like incinerators of old because they burn non-recyclable waste cleanly, conform to strict emissions standards and produce heat and electricity. The district of Torry near the planned incinerator would benefit from low energy bills, it said.

Despite councils’ “best efforts to reduce residual waste through minimisation campaigns, recycling, composting and use of other treatments, a substantial quantity of residual waste that is generated will still need to be collected and cannot be landfilled anymore,” NESS Energy added.

“This facility provides a local, long term, sustainable solution for managing waste that cannot be recycled”.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency said that the incinerator would need a permit which would require the operator “to demonstrate that all the appropriate preventative measures are taken against pollution”. No permit application had so far been received.

The Scottish Government stressed that plans for the Aberdeen incinerator were “a matter for local authorities”. The government’s preference was to see waste reduced, reused or recycled, but incineration was a necessary part of the management of residual waste in order to reduce reliance on landfills, said a spokesperson.

Aberdeenshire Council confirmed they had received Johnston’s motion and it would be discussed by councillors on 7 March.

A spokesperson for Aberdeen City Council said that NESS were “unable to comment on motions or reports in advance of councillors discussing these at committee.”


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.