Residual waste processed through energy recovery plants in the UK in 2016 rose by 18% on the year before, according to a report.
Latest data on the UK energy-from-waste (EfW) sector is based largely on research commissioned by regulators from Tolvik Consulting, together with Tolvik’s assessment of the current market for such facilities.
Its report, UK Energy from Waste Statistics – 2016, concludes: “The recent strengthening of the residual waste market (both in terms of tonnages and gate fees) and the successful financing of key projects has led to a renewed interest in larger scale EfW facilities.”
Residual waste sent to 41 EfW facilities increased to 9.96 million tonnes (Mt) or 18% when compared with 2015. The bulk of this (85%) is local authority collected waste while the rest is commercial and industrial.
In December 2016 there were 37 operational EfWs in the UK, with a further four in commissioning, providing a total capacity of 11.76Mt a year. There was a further 4.08Mt a year of capacity in construction.
Inputs to EfWs in 2016 represented 35.4% of the overall UK residual waste market, up from 30.7% in 2015. For the first time, in 2016 the proportion of residual waste going to landfill (at 48.5%) fell below 50%.
Total power exported by EfWs in the UK in 2016 was 5,208GWh – approximately 1.8% of the total UK generation in 2016 and a 12% increase on 2015.
The average power generated per tonne of input fell during 2016 when compared with 2015, said the report, because a couple of larger EfWs experienced lower power export than expected due to turbine issues during the year.
Looking ahead, Tolvik says that operational capacity beyond 2020 will depend on the development of additional facilities.
“Recent trends suggest that the EfWs most likely to be developed will either be advanced conversion technology (ACT) facilities benefitting from subsidy support or larger scale EfWs based on conventional moving grate technologies.
“In April, bids were submitted by developers of ACT projects seeking support under the Contracts for Difference mechanism. It is understood from several sources that there could have been as many as 30 applications for support for ACT projects.
”With this level of competition there is the potential that the level of support awarded to successful ACT projects may not always be sufficient for them to be commercially viable.”