Inenco: business power prices to rise 50% over four years

Inenco says businesses may be paying 50% more in 2020 for power than they were in 2016.

The third party intermediary (TPI) has published a new cost forecast that illustrates how rising non-commodity costs and wholesale markets are driving up prices.

Over the last two years, non-commodity costs, which make up around half of business bills, have increased 25%, says the firm. Meanwhile wholesale prices have risen sharply this year with volatility also returning to the market.

The firm warns the impact of Brexit on Sterling could compound price rises while a rise in the Climate Change Levy in April also adds cost.

Changes to the Energy Intensive Industries threshold, which will reduce exposure to policy costs for more big businesses, could mean those levies are smeared across the rest of the market – adding another incremental increase to business bills.

Inenco’s cost forecast also looks further out to try and gauge how prices may rise in the longer term. It suggests bills may double by 2032.

While that presents an ongoing procurement challenge for those on tight budgets, the firm said the flip side is that rising costs could help build business cases for energy efficiency and demand-side management initiatives.

Hooton Bio-Power Gasification Project Deal Secured

Press release: 2 November 2018
Deal secured for gasification of 240,000 tonnes of waste per year at Hooton Bio Power Ltd.

Collaboration between Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC), CoGen, Peel Environmental, N+P Group, Kobelco Eco Solutions, local authorities and strong financing partners secures impressive waste gasification plant in North West England.
The Hooton Bio Power facility will be the fifth Energy from Waste (EfW) project delivered by leading renewable energy developer CoGen and will be the first non-subsidised merchant gasification facility. It is the first time the UK market will realise a gasification plant of this size, based on fluidised bed technology provided by Japanese Kobelco Eco Solution.
The facility will be developed on the Peel Environmental site, Hooton Park, the second Peel site on which CoGen will deliver a gasification plant. The first in the ongoing partnership was the recently commissioned 21.5MW Ince Bio Power plant at Protos in Cheshire.
Power facility specialist, Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor A/S (BWSC), will deliver the high efficiency waste gasification plant, located south of the Wirral, North West England. The project is backed by solid UK investors and is in line with the UK target of delivering efficient and environmentally friendly energy, while reducing landfill by 10% by 2020. BWSC has an extensive list of UK-based projects, having built nine biomass-fuelled power facilities in the UK, most of which it also operates.
The Hooton facility will gasify some 240,000 tonnes of waste per year, generating more than 200 GWh of electricity annually – enough to power about 50,000 homes. The facility is expected to be operational in the second half of 2021.
Around 350 jobs will be associated with the construction stage at its peak, and the ongoing operation of the facility will generate up to 30 permanent positions.
About the project
This CoGen developed project will see BWSC awarded a full turnkey build contract (full EPC and build contract) as well as a contract to operate and maintain the facility for 15 years post completion. BWSC will deliver the Hooton facility utilising the Kobelco Fluidised bed technology. CoGen is overseeing the construction and operation of the facility as Project Manager on behalf of the project company. In addition, CoGen has a contract to fully manage the facility during the operational period. Hooton Bio Power will be fuelled by locally-sourced waste, using 240,000 tonnes each year supplied via a 15-year feedstock supply agreement (with an option for a further 10 years) with fuel supplier N+P Group.
Nikolaj Holmer Nissen, newly appointed CEO at BWSC, says:
“Determined and constructive cooperation has brought this important waste gasification project over the finishing line. The plant will add to the extensive experience BWSC has obtained in the UK market - experience that will help pave the way for successful project implementation. The Hooton Bio Power Ltd is a good example of BWSC constantly striving to develop new and more energy efficient solutions for the benefit of our customers and the environment.”
Ian Brooking, CEO, COGEN, says:
The completion of the Hooton Bio Power deal represents a significant milestone for the UK Energy from Waste sector. The project underpins CoGen’s longer-term plans of developing regional scale merchant gasification facilities across the UK. We look forward to following the approach we took with Hooton as we begin to roll out more projects in our pipeline.
Karel Jennissen, CEO, N+P Group B.V, says:
We are very delighted that this project has reached completion; this deal is a very important milestone in N+P’s UK growth strategy. The Hooton Fuel Supply agreement shows that N+P is able to deliver its promises and guarantee a specification, to ensure our end-customers get the most value for their money. We look forward with great enthusiasm to the project implementation and roll out of other projects within this partnership.
Myles Kitcher, Managing Director Peel Environmental, added:
“This Hooton Park facility will deliver the equivalent energy to power 50,000 homes and is strategically placed to form part of the wider Energy Innovation District securing low carbon and lower costs energy in turn promoting indigenous growth, encouraging inward investment and stimulating innovation. We are delighted to see this project involving some of the sector’s leading companies come to fruition demonstrating the collective drive, which is helping to shape the future of energy in both the Northwest and the UK as a whole.”

Scottish Government seeking advice on net-zero carbon target

Scottish Government seeking advice on net-zero carbon target

Scotland's climate change minister Roseanna Cunningham has confirmed that the Scottish Government will set a net-zero emissions goal if the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) can set out a "pathway" for the nation to achieve carbon neutrality.

Scotland's draft climate change strategy has a headline target of achieving a 100% reduction in carbon emissions

Scotland's draft climate change strategy has a headline target of achieving a 100% reduction in carbon emissions "as soon as possible"

Speaking during a debate at Holyrood late last week, Cunningham confirmed that the Scottish Government has joined the UK Government in seeking advice from the CCC on how best to bolster its climate targets and achieve net-zero status by 2050.

The move comes off the back of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) landmark report, which warns that the global temperature increase will hit 1.5C by 2030, and 3-4C by the end of the century.

Drawing on more than 4,000 pieces of scientific research, the IPCC’s report claims that limiting warming to 1.5C would require global carbon pollution to be cut by 45% by 2030 – compared with a 20% cut under the 2C pathway – and come down to zero by 2050, compared with 2075 for 2C. This would require carbon prices that are three to four times higher than for a 2C target.

“If [the CCC] advises that even more ambitious Scottish targets are now credible, we will adopt them,” Cunningham said at Holyrood on Thursday (1 November).

“What has held us back until now is that the UK CCC has been unable to outline that credible pathway. In the absence of that, we felt that it would be unwise to draft the bill in any other way than we have at the moment, but we want to get there.

“The Scottish government wants to achieve net zero emissions of all greenhouse gases as soon as possible. It is our intention to get there, and we will set a target date for that as soon as that can be done credibly and responsibly.”

Cunningham’s comments come after the publication of Scotland’s draft climate change strategy in June, which has a headline target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 90% by 2050 and achieving a 100% reduction "as soon as possible". The strategy outlines plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds by 2030 as a milestone on the way to the ambitious 2050 goal.

Steps toward decarbonisation

The debate which Cunningham was speaking at had been held to mark the publication of the first annual monitoring report for Scotland’s climate change framework, which found that the nation met its annual and domestic carbon targets in 2016.

Following the release of Government statistics confirming that Scotland had achieved a 49% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions against a 1990 baseline earlier this year, the report reveals that the nation recorded a 10.3% year-on-year reduction in carbon emissions between 2015 and 2016.

It additionally notes that the six large-scale renewable generation projects to have been approved in Scotland in 2016 are set to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint by 0.246 MtCO2 annually by 2022.

These findings are the latest low-carbon success stories for Scotland, which has committed to delivering 50% of all energy from renewables across heat, transport and electricity, and has signed a joint agreement to tackle climate change with the US State of California.

The nation has also deployed the world’s first floating wind farm, delivering electricity to the Scottish grid and the country’s largest solar farm has also received the green light, alongside the announcement of plans to phase out new polluting petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032.

To drive further progress, industry body Scottish Renewables this week launched a campaign calling for tougher policy to help decarbonise the 14,000 Scottish homes that still use coal as their primary heat source - as well as the 186,000 domestic properties that rely on oil or bottled gas.

The organisation estimates that homes using coal emit, on average, more than four times as much carbon as those using electric heat pumps, biomass boilers or solar thermal panels.

“Coal-powered electricity generation has already become a thing of the past in Scotland and it's time household coal heating was consigned to the dustbin of history too,” Scottish Renewables’ senior policy manager Fabrice Leveque said.

“Schemes like the Renewable Heat Incentive are available to help people switch to more sustainable alternatives and the benefits of doing so are clear: cleaner air, a healthier environment and less of the harmful emissions which cause climate change.”

Scotland's Landfill Ban 'not achievable'

Scotland’s landfill ban ‘not achievable’

Concerns are emerging over waste material in Scotland being diverted to English landfills as a result of the Scottish Government’s ban on landfilling biodegradable waste from 2021. 

And, the likelihood of cross border movements comes amid a warning to the association for Scotland’s local authorities that it is “unlikely” councils will be able to meet the 2021 landfill ban.


Scotland’s councils could breach landfill regulations (picture: WRAP)

The update from COSLA – the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities – comes in a document for a meeting of the association’s environment and economy board this week.

The environment board is told that: “As it stands it seems unlikely that the 2021 ban will be fully achievable. Work on delivery and on possible solutions will continue with future reports to the Board likely.”

When contacted by, a spokesperson for COSLA said: “COSLA is working with all 32 councils and Scottish Government to develop an effective pathway towards the 2021 landfill ban for biodegradable municipal waste.”

COSLA says in the board document that it is working to establish a “realistic suite of options” that would enable all councils to meet the ban.


Indicating that the real question is around the development of non-landfill waste treatment solutions in Scotland, COSLA explained that it is involved in overseeing research commissioned by the Scottish Government to establish the capacity of the Scottish market to process waste after 2021. But, there have been wide ranging concerns that Scotland is behind in terms of infrastructure to take in the diverted waste.

“We want to be able to meet the 2021 ban and for Scottish Government implementation arrangements to be designed in such a way as to allow this to happen,” COSLA said.

(above) One facility developed by Viridor in Scotland is its Dunbar energy from waste facility which has now been completed.


RDF focus

It understood that there will be a big focus on RDF to replace waste which was previously destined for landfill, along with work to extract more materials from the feedstock. But, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has refused to disclose exporters of RDF to (see note below and in contrast to the Environment Agency in England) which wished to ascertain trends in the market.

However, one waste sector expert explained that currently a lot of RDF is exported from Scotland, and that there are also a number of domestic energy from waste facilities due to come online in the next few years.


SEPA has said that details of exports of RDF by Scottish companies cannot be divulged in contrast to transparency in England

Another Scottish industry expert estimated Scotland could be faced with almost a 1 million tonnes shortfall in waste treatment capacity from 2021. The Scottish Government is “pinning all hopes” on two options of sending material to energy from waste plants in England or more waste being exported as RDF, he said.

However, with the RDF market on the continent saturated, Brexit impacts, and plants in the North East of England operating at full capacity, waste material is likely to be sent to English landfills, incurring a higher price, the expert warned.

“The Scottish Government isn’t budging,” he said, despite the fact the ban has “no chance” of being met.


The ban on biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill from the 1 January 2021 is set out in the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012. Biodegradable waste is described as “any waste capable of undergoing anaerobic or aerobic decomposition such as food, garden waste, paper and cardboard”.

In 2017, 1.98 million tonnes of biodegradable municipal waste was sent to landfill in 2017, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has confirmed.

According to SEPA permits will be varied in advance of the commencement of the ban to prohibit landfill operators from accepting biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) for disposal at their landfill from 2021.

This means, at the landfill, BMW will be rejected and directed for alternative management.

Note: SEPA secrecy over RDF notifiers

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has declined to give out any details about companies which have notified it of exports of RDF from Scotland in contrast to transparency in terms of exports from England. In England the Environment Agency regularly publishes details of RDF exports and lists the companies involved.  SEPA said that the information could “prejudice substantially the commercial undertaking of the companies and impact on the relationships they have built and sustained with suppliers and partners in this small market.”

SEPA added: “To release the information could potentially disrupt ongoing business of those involved.”

Hydrogen Production - Hurdles and Opportunities

Hydrogen production could help balance intermittent energy generation, says Policy Exchange

Scotland and North East England offer the best opportunities for successful hydrogen production hubs, while investment in cost-effective hydrogen production technologies – such as electrolysis – would open up export opportunities, according to a new report from Policy Exchange.

Fuelling the Future, by Policy Exchange’s senior energy and environment research fellow Joshua Burke, recommended that:

  • Without coordinated leadership on a hydrogen economy from industry and central government (targeted at lowering the cost of sustainable production), the UK will not benefit from the big opportunities to decarbonise.

  • As part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, investment should be focused on R&D to lower the cost of hydrogen production via methods like electrolysis, which has the potential to provide flexible services to help balance intermittent renewable energy.

  • New analysis by Policy Exchange suggests that if natural gas used in industry was completely replaced by hydrogen, industrial emissions could drop by 71%. However, more research and investment in infrastructure is needed to reduce the cost of hydrogen production and make this cost-effective for businesses.

  • In the short term, long distance freight offers the best opportunities for implementing hydrogen use at scale, and national and local government should work with the private sector to invest in the necessary refuelling network as well as innovation grants for pilot programmes.

  • Hydrogen production using electrolysers and ‘spare’ curtailed wind can replace less than 1% of the gas used in domestic heating, while production using fossil fuels is incompatible with domestic decarbonisation targets without carbon capture and storage (CCS). Scotland and the North East of England are the best places in the country for decarbonised hydrogen production hubs using renewable energy and/or CCS so the Government should consider targeting investment there.

A spokesperson for Uniper, which sponsored the report, said: “We’ve been looking at how renewable electricity can be converted to hydrogen and injected into the gas network, to address the challenging question of how to decarbonise heat. Today’s report throws a spotlight on some of the exciting opportunities presented by the emerging hydrogen economy – but like us, it is also clear about the investment and leadership that are crucial if the potential is to be realised.”

More on the hydrogen economy

Cadent plan would see a fifth of gas in northwest replaced with hydrogen

UK should take leadership in using hydrogen, argues IMechE

From New Power Report: energy issues in a switch to hydrogen gas

Hydrogen grid? Think about power – and gas – needs, says energy systems expert

Report suggests converting gas grid to hydrogen network

The gas, electricity, transport balancing act

Does the gas grid have a low-carbon future?

HYDeploy - H2 into Keele University Gas Grid Trial

Hydrogen for heat ‘will create anchor carbon capture and storage projects’

A consortium led by gas networks aims to work out whether using more hydrogen within existing infrastructure could cut UK carbon emissions.

Cadent and Northern Gas Networks believe it could also lay the ground for renewed efforts to crack carbon capture and storage.

The HyDeploy project, funded by bill payers under Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition, officially launched yesterday.

It aims to inject a gas blend of up to 20% hydrogen across Keele University’s private gas network next year in a bid to work out how much hydrogen could be safely used within existing infrastructure without affecting gas appliances.

Keele’s campus was chosen because, with 12,000 students and staff and 350 mixed-use buildings, it arguably has a profile not too dissimilar to a small town.

Results from Keele could therefore provide a platform for a wider public trial.

Using hydrogen, or other ‘green’ gases within existing gas networks is one of the pathways industry and government are considering in a bid to decarbonise heat.

Another pathway is electrificiation, which proponents argue may be a cleaner approach.

Electrification arguments hinge on the fact that creating clean hydrogen at scale would require carbon capture and storage, a technology not yet proven at commercial scale.

Counter arguments revolve around the massive peak loads electrification of heat would create, and how these could be managed in a system with high penetration of intermittent renewables, and where consumers display little appetite to change consumption patterns.

Under the HyDeploy trial, hydrogen will be created via electrolysis, which breaks up water molecules into electricity and oxygen.

For large-scale operations, it is likely that steam methane reformation (SMR) methods of production would be required. Making SMR hydrogen ‘clean’ would require carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Mark Horsley, CEO of Northern Gas Networks, told The Energyst the firm “makes no bones” about the fact large scale deployment of hydrogen within gas networks would require CCS.

However, he said if hydrogen can safely be proven for use at significant concentrations within gas networks, such a requirement would help create “anchor projects for people wanting to build carbon capture networks” and make them “more viable”.

Parkin: CCS getting back on track

David Parkin, director, network strategy at Cadent, admitted that CCS support has a “chequered history” in the UK, with funding competitions unexpectedly axed two years ago.

However, Parkin said he is “very confident that the government is now focused on delivering CCS … [Beis] and the Committee on Climate Change have said that the UK will not achieve 2050 carbon targets without it”.

While previous CCS initiatives focused on decarbonising power, Parkin said the current cycle is “moving towards the decarbonisation of heat, transport and industry – and the HyDeploy project aligns with that broader strategy”.

Using higher blends of hydrogen in the gas network will require plastic pipes. The UK-wide iron ring main replacement programme is now about 70% complete, according to Horsley, and will be 100% complete by 2032, potentially creating strong alignment for higher hydrogen use in the next decade.

While gas appliances manufactured after 1996 are designed to operate with a hydrogen mix up to 23%, the government is funding a £25m project to determine implications of higher hydrogen blends for gas-fired equipment such as cookers and boilers. Manufacturers such as Worcester Bosch have already started designing boilers to handle higher hydrogen mixes.

Horsley suggested the Beis appliance funding and Ofgem innovation allowances indicate that “government, regulator and industry are ensuring the requisite [hydrogen] elements are joined up”.

However, he rebutted claims by academics, most recently the UK Energy Research Centre, which suggest gas networks may be “promoting options which clearly cannot deliver a transformation to low carbon heat … as a means to progress their own financial agenda”.

Horsley: Different circumstances require different solutions

“That is not fair comment,” said Horsley. “There is not a silver bullet in any solution and we do not preclude that as an industry. We very much support the work of the electricity sector, but different circumstances require different solutions. So I can categorically state that [progressing a financial agenda] is not the case.

“We are very confident about the technology – hydrogen production is a known technology – but there is potential to use the pipe network for other bio- or synthetic gases. So we think the project has a real merit, but, at the same time, we are not precluding other solutions.”

Hydrogen and CO2 Plans for Liverpool Bay

Cadent outlines major hydrogen plus carbon capture and storage plan

Cadent has published plans to inject hydrogen into its distribution network in the North West while capturing and storing carbon in depleted gas fields in Liverpool Bay.

The UK’s largest gas distribution network operator, formerly owned by National Grid, says the £0.9bn HyNet project, if given support by the government and allowed by the regulator, could be operational by the mid 2020s.

The plan is to produce hydrogen from natural gas via a process called auto-thermal reforming (ATR). This separates hydrogen from methane, with carbon dioxide the bi-product.

The carbon dioxide requires capture and storage (CCS) forever if hydrogen from natural gas is to be considered low carbon.

Cadent thinks 93% of the CO2 can be captured from a hydrogen conversion plant in Cheshire and transported via repurposed gas pipelines to depleted gas fields Liverpool Bay. The firm believes around 1.5m tonnes of CO2 a year could be stored from the project, with the ENI-owned Liverpool Bay site able to contain around 150m tonnes of CO2.

Cadent thinks some of the CO2 can also be used. Though neither the report nor associated websitespells out how, COis used around the world for enhanced oil recovery.

Homes, industry and transport

A blend of up to 20% hydrogen would be injected into the existing gas grid for household and business use, says Cadent.

The company also plans to covert ten large industrial sites to run on up to to 100% hydrogen, which it will pipe to directly. Cadent would also take and store carbon dioxide already separated by local industry via pipeline.

As well as helping to decarbonise heavy industry, it says creating hydrogen infrastructure may also drive uptake of hydrogen vehicles by facilitating fuelling stations along the network route.

Costs and funding

Cadent claims the £920m project would deliver CO2 abatement for £114 per tonne, though it says this has the potential to fall.

Cadent, now mostly owned by a consortium that includes Macquarie and the Qatar Investment Authority, says it will need appropriate funding mechanisms or subsidies to undertake the project.

This could be via a levy on gas bills. Whereas electricity customers pay levies on bills to pay for decarbonisation, gas customers have not yet contributed to meeting the UK’s emission, Cadent notes.

The report moots a hybrid funding structure, whereby gas customers pay for the hydrogen and CO2capture elements of the project, and taxpayers, potentially through Industrial Strategy funding, foot some of the cost of the transport, storage and industrial conversion elements.

Cadent points out that if it goes ahead, the HyNet project would be the world’s first CCUS project at commercial scale. It notes that if government did not provide funding support, “it will need to take on the key risks for CCUS chain failure, as this cannot be borne by the private sector”.

See the report here.

ITM Opens 7th UK Hydrogen Refueling Station

ITM Power opens seventh UK hydrogen refuelling station as carmakers prepare new model launches

Hyundai Nexo: Carmaker’s second hydrogen vehicle launching imminently. (Credit: Creative Commons/Alexander Migl)

ITM Power today officially opens its seventh public hydrogen refuelling station in Swindon. The eighth will follow at Gatwick within the next three months.

The Swindon station, funded under European and UK initiatives, uses renewable electricity and water to generate hydrogen on-site, negating the need for gas deliveries. It is sited at Johnson Matthey, which makes fuel cell technology and believes its catalysts can help enable large-scale production of hydrogen.

Carmakers Toyota, Hyundai and Honda are supporting the venture, with Hyundai set to launch its ‘Nexo’ hydrogen model in the UK “imminently”, according to president and CEO, Tony Whitehorn.

ITM chief executive, Graham Cooley, said the company and its partners were working with local businesses “to develop a significant FCEV (fuel cell electric vehicle) fleet around the new station.”

Electromechanically-derived hydrogen, while using relatively large amounts of power, is clean and does not require carbon capture and storage, which must be implemented in hydrogen production using steam methane reformation if it is to be considered low carbon. Some companies, such as Vattenfall, believe it is a significant part of the solution to decarbonise industry and transport.

Others think hydrogen via electrolysis could help balance the power system. For example, excess wind generation could be used to create hydrogen, which can then be used for transport, and potentially heat applications.

The UK government has committed to £1.5bn in funding for ultra-low emissions vehicles by 2020 and recently announced around £100 million of funding for innovators in ultra-low-emission vehicles and hydrogen technology.

Support Mechanism Focus needs to be on Transport & Heating

Eon boss: Renewable power is done, now for heat and transport

Michael Lewis: Decarbonising power ‘done’, heat and transport next.

Eon CEO Michael Lewis believes the UK has largely cracked decarbonisation of power generation and must concentrate on heat and transport, which is where he said the energy company will concentrate its efforts.

Speaking at Aurora’s Spring Forum, Lewis, who took the reins from Tony Cocker a year ago, applauded the policy stability of successive previous governments in delivering renewables.

“[Renewable generation] has been a huge success, but in many ways, that is already done,” said Lewis. While there are “some issues around intermittency” to solve, “we have [achieved] renewable, low and zero carbon generation at a lower price than conventional generation. Now we need to turn to transport and heating – and that is where Eon wants to play a key role.”

He said heat and transport are at a similar juncture to renewables “ten or eleven years ago” and pointed out that while the UK has succeeded in delivering almost 40GW of renewable generation, “success was far from a forgone conclusion back then”.

Lewis said in 2008, Eon had two offshore projects under construction, “both hugely over budget and late”. The firm had another two in operation, both beset by technical difficulties. Meanwhile, the London Array project “came that close to not going ahead, and would not have gone ahead unless government had moved to two Rocs”.

Giving offshore wind developers additional subsidy at that point, he suggested, was now bearing fruit in enabling the economies of scale that are leading to cost reductions.

“We were about to make an £800m investment decision and needed to know that the government stood behind us, which they did, and created a world class industry.”

That foresight should now be applied to decarbonising heat and transport, said Lewis, which is where Eon will focus more fully.

“We believe our capabilities are better deployed where there is still a problem to be solved,” he said, suggesting the starting point should be “making the existing system more efficient.”

Under the proposed Eon-RWE deal, it has been announced that Eon will focus primarily on retail and networks, with RWE taking on generation.

Speaking at the same conference, SSE boss Alistair Phillips-Davies said he “saw the SSE-Npower merger going forward and being unaffected by the RWE-Eon deal”.

UK “Sleep Walking” Into Waste Infrastructure Capacity Deficiency

UK “Sleep Walking” Into Waste Infrastructure Capacity Deficiency

The UK is “sleep walking” into a waste infrastructure capacity deficiency and is likely to “panic” later when it’s clear there is a problem, according to Biffa’s Ian Wakelin.

The comments come as Wakelin (left), joined by SUEZ’s David Palmer-Jones (right), opened this year’s RWM exhibition in the Keynote theatre.

The session offered an overview of the year in the waste & recycling sector, with former CIWM CEO-turned-consultant Steve Lee chairing the duo. He kicked off the discussion by asking what they want to see in the government’s forthcoming Waste & Resources Strategy.

One of Wakelin’s overarching messages from the session was that the UK doesn’t have the waste infrastructure capacity to deal with its own waste and that it currently doesn’t have the right mix. He said the UK has a deficit of energy from waste (EfW) capacity and that 13m tonnes of combustible waste that could be burnt for energy currently isn’t because the facilities aren’t there.

He said the UK will make substantial progress and predicted the capacity gap will half in the next ten years, assuming it continues to export refuse derived fuel (RDF). He said it’s vital UK government decides what it needs and “would like” in terms of the role of EfW and that it needs to offer clarity, which will then help build confidence and investment in those vital facilities.

Both agreed that the impact of the “Blue Planet effect”, in that it has increased public awareness of resources sustainability and single-use plastic waste, has changed public sentiment “beyond all recognition”, and that for the resources sector to not deliver on this would be “unacceptable” and a “failure”.

In terms of recycling, he said that without extended producer responsibility (EPR), UK recycling will go “virtually nowhere” and that the Chinese sword has been a “big wake up call”.

Palmer-Jones said that he was not interested in “tweeking” the current systems and what he wants is “systemic” change. He said the failing recycling market needs to be addressed, along with the lack of data, which is essential for government to implement future-policy. He said EPR, balance and “pull-mechanisms” are vital. He also said that local government funding needs to be right, as do food waste systems.

He reiterated Wakelin’s comments that the industry needs confidence to invest and this needs to come from government and policy. With regard to building confidence, he questioned why the sector has to wait for the government’s budget to find out the rise in landfill tax and offered that a calculator would help develop confidence in the long run.

Lee asked if a strong domestic market for secondary materials would be enough to stimulate recycling, to which Palmer-Jones said having these materials remain in the UK is better than sending them abroad and that potentially a virgin plastic tax could help increase demand for secondary materials.

Wakelin offered that he doesn’t believe the UK will ever be self-sufficient in terms of a secondary materials market because it doesn’t have the manufacturing in place for the use of these materials. He said, “ironically” the UK could do more with plastics because of the value of the finished product, but paper would be “challenging”.

Tackling Brexit and the impact on UK resource businesses, Palmer-Jones said that currently we don’t know what type of Brexit we will get, and that this raises questions, such as what the port situation will be like and how this may affect RDF exports. He also raised the issue of migrant labour in the sector and that, with what will presumably be a stem of freedom of movement post-Brexit, this may become a problem.

Wakelin said that Brexit is a “political failure” and probably won’t be good for the UK economy. “Anyone who doesn’t worry about Brexit is a fool,” he said. He also stated that if it comes to the point where RDF can’t leave the country then the only place for it is landfill.

Both agreed that the impact of the “Blue Planet effect”, in that it has increased public awareness of resources sustainability and single-use plastic waste, has changed public sentiment “beyond all recognition”, and that for the resources sector to not deliver on this would be “unacceptable” and a “failure”.