Research reveals regional disparities in energy revolution

Research reveals regional disparities in energy revolution

The research, commissioned by Drax Group, found that businesses and households in London and Scotland are better placed to take advantage of the benefits of the ‘energy revolution’, including cheaper energy bills, electric vehicles and smart appliances.  Meanwhile, the North of England and East Midlands lag furthest behind.

The report breaks down the energy revolution into 12 metrics for the power, transport and buildings sectors, to provide a barometer of national and regional progress. Achievement against each of these metrics is scored as ‘not on track’, ‘within 90% of target’ or ‘ahead of target’.



The authors found London leads progress jointly with Scotland because its transport system is the country’s greenest. As public transport, walking and cycling are more dominant in London, a Londoner’s carbon footprint from transport is up to 2.5 times less than residents in other regions. The capital also receives 45% of national funds for rail electrification, resulting in the country’s lowest carbon emissions from rail. It is also cheaper, on average, to own an electric car in London than in any other part of the country. This is due to the average London driver travelling shorter distances and the exemption of electric vehicles (EV) from London’s Congestion Charge.

Scotland leads in the energy revolution with London due to its successful shift from fossil fuels to renewable generated electricity. The number of EV charging points in Scotland is also high compared to the number of vehicles. Despite the low population density, the average Scottish household is around 2km from a charging point, but with the lifetime cost of running an EV being the highest in Scotland and Wales, this is affecting uptake in these areas.

Residential homes in leading regions London, Scotland and the East are also more energy efficient, and more likely to score high A-C Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings, and have fewer buildings rated F and G.

By comparison, all of the regions lagging behind, including Wales, Yorkshire, the East Midlands and the north of England suffer from particularly low EPC ratings.  The cost of heating, combined with lower average incomes in these areas mean that fuel poverty rates are particularly high. As the country transitions to more electric heating in future, this is likely to result in increasing energy bills in these regions unless homes can be made more energy efficient, or the cost of electric heating can be reduced, particularly for vulnerable residents.

Imperial’s Dr Iain Staffell said: “Our research reveals that Britain is at risk of creating a two-tier economy, leaving millions of families and businesses less well equipped to enjoy cheaper bills and better health outcomes. Our concern is they will not be offered the same opportunities as people living in regions which are modernising their energy infrastructure.”

Research was conducted independently by researchers from Imperial College London and E4tech, facilitated by Imperial Consultants and commissioned by Drax Group.

Cracks in Hunterston Nuclear Reactor Core

More than 350 cracks have been discovered in an ageing nuclear power reactor at Hunterston in North Ayrshire, breaching an agreed safety limit and prompting calls for a permanent shutdown.

Experts have warned that the cracks could lead to a “catastrophic accident” releasing clouds of radioactive contamination over Glasgow and Edinburgh. But Hunterston’s operator, EDF Energy, insisted that the reactor was safe – and is bidding to relax safety standards so that it can be restarted.

Reactor three at Hunterston B nuclear power station originally started generating electricity in 1976, and is the oldest in the UK run by EDF. It has been closed down since 9 March 2018 so that its graphite core could be inspected for cracks.

The reactor was initially due to restart on 30 March, but the date has been repeatedly postponed as more cracks have been found. EDF is now hoping for permission from the UK government’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) to fire up the reactor on 18 December.

The Ferret revealed in April that new cracks had been discovered in the reactor, but at the time neither EDF nor ONR would say how many. In May EDF said that 39 cracks had been found and they were “happening at a slightly higher rate than modelled”.

Now we can report that more than 350 cracks have been discovered in reactor three. According to ONR, 350 is the “operational limit” in the safety case that determines whether or not the reactor is allowed to operate.

EDF has told the local Hunterston Site Stakeholder Group that it was likely to propose to ONR that reactor three in future be permitted to run with up to 1,000 cracks. EDF has also closed down the adjacent reactor four at Hunterston to check for cracks, but hopes to reopen it on 30 November.

Whether or not ONR allows Hunterston reactor three to restart, and under what conditions, will have major implications for the life of EDF’s other nuclear power station in Scotland at Torness in East Lothian. It will also impact five EDF nuclear plants in England.

The 3,000 graphite blocks that make up the cores of advanced gas-cooled reactorssuch as those at Hunterston B and Torness are vital to nuclear safety. Their integrity enables the reactors to be cooled and safely shut down in an emergency.

But bombardment by intense radiation over decades stresses the blocks, producing cracks at the base of key slots known as “keyway root cracks”. If enough of the blocks fail, experts say, nuclear fuel could overheat, melt down and leak radioactivity in a major accident.

The independent nuclear engineer, John Large, has previously argued that Hunterston reactor three should be permanent shut down. Before he died on 3 November he was helping radioactivity consultant, Dr Ian Fairlie, prepare a presentation on Hunterston.

Fairlie, a former adviser to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, shared Large’s concerns. “I worked closely with John Large in the weeks before his untimely death,” he told The Ferret.

Large was concerned about the cracking causing graphite blocks to split, making the system of interlocking blocks in the reactor core less stable. “As a result, any untoward event such as a steam surge, sudden outage or earth tremor could result in a serious accident – a large release of radioactive gases,” Fairlie said.

If other safety systems failed at the same time, there could be a catastrophic accident – such as occurred at Chernobyl in 1986.DR IAN FAIRLIE, RADIOACTIVITY CONSULTANT

“If other safety systems failed at the same time, there could be a catastrophic accident – such as occurred at Chernobyl in 1986 in the former USSR. John was adamant that the Hunterston reactors should therefore not be restarted.”

News that 350 keyway root cracks have now been found meant that over 10 per cent of reactor three’s blocks had split, according to Fairlie. He said that EDF’s computer modelling had failed to predict such a high level of cracking.

He added: “EDF does not have a good handle on the ageing mechanisms inside the reactor. This means that reactor three should definitely not be restarted.”

Fairlie presented his findings to a recent meeting in Kilmarnock of the Scottish group of Nuclear-Free Local Authorities (NFLA). The group is intending to write to ONR’s chief nuclear inspector seeking a meeting, and to alert politicians at Holyrood.

“The analysis provided by Dr Ian Fairlie over increasing keyway root cracking of the Hunterston B reactors is of real concern,” said NFLA Scotland convenor and Glasgow SNP councillor, Feargal Dalton.

The increasing number of cracks was “particularly worrying”, he added. “It is absolutely critical that nuclear safety considerations are dealt with real care, and it is a concern that EDF’s computer modelling appears to not be giving them enough information on the wider safety and integrity of the reactor’s graphite core.”

Rita Holmes, chair of the Hunterston Site Stakeholder Group, accused EDF’s experts of getting their predictions wrong. “If safety were indeed EDF’s number one priority, then reactor three would remain shut down,” she argued.

“As it is EDF is seeking permission to restart an aged reactor, which despite huge efforts and high cost, failed to back up its current safety case. The Hunterston keyway root cracking was not predicted to be so progressed.”

Holmes questioned whether a new safety case allowing far more cracks would be any more reliable. “There’s a lot at stake if the experts are wrong again,” she said.

ONR confirmed how many cracks had been found. “A conservative assessment of the inspection results shows that the number of cracks in reactor three exceeded the operational limit of 350 cracks in the existing safety case,” said an ONR spokesperson.

“However, it should be noted that the safety case demonstrates a significant margin beyond this limit and safe operation was ensured.”

ONR declined to speculate about what it would decide on restarting the reactor. “We understand that EDF Energy is currently working on a revised safety case to justify a return to service of reactor three,” said the spokesperson.

“Once we have received the safety case from EDF we will fully assess it and permission will only be granted for the reactor to return to service if we are satisfied that it is safe to do so. This assessment will include consideration of the timing of further inspections.”

BEIS to allocate £60m for next CfD auction

'Genuinely bewildering': BEIS to allocate £60m for next CfD auction

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is set to finalise a draft allocation of £60m for the next Contract for Difference (CfD) auction, raising questions as to how the remaining £497m set aside for future auctions will be spent.

The publication of the draft allocation has been seen by some green groups as a missed opportunity to lower offshore costs even further

The publication of the draft allocation has been seen by some green groups as a missed opportunity to lower offshore costs even further

BEIS has today (20 November) issued its CfD Draft Allocation notice, allocating a £60m budget for “less-established” Pot 2 technologies, for the delivery years 2023-24 and 2024-25.

Earlier this year it was revealed that offshore wind and, for the first time, remote island wind providers would eligible to bid for contracts at the next CfD auctions, which will take place in May 2019 and then every following two years. The UK Government has set aside £557m for these auctions and, depending on prices, could deliver up to 2GW of additional wind capacity each year in the 2020s.

However, it appears that BEIS is set to impose a capacity cap of 6GW for the third CfD allocation round, with strike prices set below the record levels set in the previous auction. An administrative strike price for offshore wind has been set at £53-56/MWh, while the newly added remote island onshore wind technologies will have a strike price of £82/MWh for both delivery years.

Developers, green groups and politicians had welcomed previous results from the UK Government's 2017 CfD auction, which has seen the cost of offshore wind halve over the last two years to set a record low-strike price of £57.50 per MWh.

However, the publication of the draft allocation has been seen by some green groups as a missed opportunity to lower offshore costs even further.

Greenpeace UK’s head of energy, Kate Blagojevic, said: “This is a genuinely bewildering move by the government that misses the opportunity to drive down offshore wind costs as fast as possible.

“They promised over half a billion pounds in investment, that was widely expected to be divvied up and made available in sizeable chunks over the next few years. But this first chunk is a pitiful sum that could end up limiting UK export potential and jeopardising our climate goals.”

Project pipeline

The UK Government expects the offshore wind sector to invest £17.5bn in the UK up to 2021, creating thousands of new jobs in the process.

Project deployment has been aided by the record-low strike prices. Results published by BEIS show that 11 energy projects worth £176m annually were awarded contracts in the 2017 auction. Three offshore projects, the 1.4GW Hornsea Project Two, the 860MW Triton Knoll farm and 0.95GW Moray Offshore Windfarm (East), representing 3.2GW of new capacity, were awarded contracts.

More than 20 projects are in the planning process or awaiting permission, leaving some to question why the allocation budget hasn’t acquired more of the £557m fund set aside for these technologies.

Construction starts at Hooton gasification plant

8 NOVEMBER 2018 by Elizabeth Slow

Construction starts at Hooton gasification plant

Aviva Investors has acquired the 240,000 tonnes capacity gasification facility which is being developed by CoGen in Hooton, Cheshire.

The purchase of the Hooton Bio Power facility by the Aviva asset management business comes in conjunction with the start of construction at the site this week.


The facility is scheduled for completion in the second half of 2021. According to Aviva, it will be the first project in Europe to use gasification technology provided by Japanese firm Kobelco Eco Solutions. And, it is also the first time the UK market will realise a gasification plant of this size, based on fluidised bed technology, CoGen notes.

Below:  An artist’s impression of the Hooton Bio Power facility

The Hooton Bio Power facility will be the fifth energy from waste (EfW) project from renewable energy developer CoGen and will be the first non-subsidised merchant gasification facility, the company says.

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the project will be delivered by power facility specialist, Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC). BWSC will be awarded a full turnkey build contract as well as a contract to operate and maintain the facility for 15 years.

BWSC has previously built nine biomass-fuelled power facilities in the UK, most of which it also operates.

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 of RDF each year supplied via a 15-year feedstock supply agreement (with an option for a further 10 years) with N+P Group (see story). It is expected to generate more than 200 GWh of electricity annually, according to CoGen.

Neville Roberts, managing director or the UK business, N&P Alternative Fuels Ltd, said the company has had interest from both councils and SMEs in contracts to supply the plant. Now that the plant has reached financial close, the next step for N&P will be to secure those contracts.

And, Mr Roberts said the company was keen to hear from local authorities and businesses interested in new contracts. “We want to engage with the best partners,” he added.

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 (see story).

“We believe this transaction will create a positive legacy for the local community; converting waste into a resource that can offset the use of other fossil fuels and provide cost-effective, renewable power for local businesses.”

Allan Vlah
Aviva Investors

Commenting on the acquisition, Allan Vlah, director, Infrastructure Equity, Aviva Investors, said: “This project is an excellent example of our investment philosophy: working with market leaders in their respective fields, investing in a premiere technology with a proven track record, and structuring contracts to deliver a project designed from the ground up to produce the long-term, inflation-indexed cash flows valued by our investors.”

Ian Brooking, chief executive, COGEN, said: “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.”

Aviva Investors

Aviva Investors – the global asset management business of Aviva plc – says it has over £7 billion of infrastructure assets under management. The Hooton Bio Power transaction is the fourth equity investment in biomass/EfW by Aviva Investors. These include projects to develop biomass plants in Boston and Barry (see letsrecycle.comstory).

Hydrogen Powered Lorry for Europe by 2023

Nikola Motor showcases autonomous hydrogen-powered lorry for European market

Low-emission truck manufacturer, and ongoing rival to Tesla, Nikola Motor Company has unveiled a new autonomous, hydrogen-powered lorry that is set to roll out across Europe by 2023.

Expect production to begin around the same time as the US version in 2022-2023

Expect production to begin around the same time as the US version in 2022-2023

Nikola Motor Company’s new vehicle will come with a range of up to 1,200km and could go into production across US and European markets between 2022 or 2023.

While no pricing information has been revealed, the manufacturer is planning to deploy more than 700 refuelling stations for the vehicles across the US and Canada, as well as an undisclosed number in Europe to cope with demand by 2030.

“This truck is a real stunner and long overdue for Europe,” Nikola Motor Company’s chief executive Trevor Milton said. “It will be the first European zero-emission commercial truck to be delivered with redundant braking, redundant steering, redundant 800Vdc batteries and a redundant 120 kW hydrogen fuel cell, all necessary for true level 5 autonomy. Expect our production to begin around the same time as our US version in 2022-2023.”

The HGV is the company’s third to date, with the previous version of the lorry proving popular in the US. Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has ordered 800 zero-emission, hydrogen-electric semi-trucks from Nikola Motors, for example, which can travel between 500-1,200 miles on one 20-minute charge.

However, the UK has some infrastructure work to complete before these vehicles will become attractive to businesses. Earlier this year, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) called on the government to "step up" its support for the use of hydrogen to decarbonise the energy system across power, heat and transport.

The report cited concerns over the long-term use of lithium-ion batteries, which are the preferred choice for electric vehicles (EVs) and urged ministers to look to ways that hydrogen could perform a multitude of roles across the transport and energy spectrum.

At a commercial level, Shell Beaconsfield on the M40 will be the first UK site to bring hydrogen under the same canopy as petrol and diesel. The opening follows the launch of the first fully branded and public hydrogen UK refuelling site at Shell Cobham in February 2017. It forms part of Shell’s ambition to support a shift to low-carbon transport, which has seen the launch of rapid electric vehicle (EV) charging systems at its UK petrol stations.

Nikola Tesla

It is expected that the Nikola vehicle will compete for a market share with Tesla’s all-electric semi-truck,which will benefit from a 2019 production date. Tesla’s truck has already gained orders from Wal-Mart and J.B Hunt and analysts have suggested that a 10% share of the market could be worth $2.5bn in annual revenue for Tesla.

Tesla’s semi-truck offers a range of 500 miles at maximum weight at highway speeds. This is in comparison to diesel trucks which can travel up to 1,000 miles on a single tank. It can drive for another 400 miles with just a 30-minute charge from a “megacharger”, according to the company.

However, there are some still some legal issues to iron out between the two firms. Nikola Motors has filed a $2bn patent infringement lawsuit against Tesla, accusing the latter of violating patents for the design of its Nikola One fuel cell hybrid semi-truck. Recent reports suggest that this lawsuit may be facing a few “roadblocks”.

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?