A little known fact

18th October 2011 Posted by

I had the pleasure of being on the panel at events held at all three Party Conferences over the past few weeks, hosted by Policy Exchange and culminating with the Conservative party conference where Charles Hendry, Minister for Energy, represented the party at our debate. The subject centred on the decarbonisation of the UK through the implementation of the UK’s Renewable Energy Strategy.

Policy Exchange fringe event at Conservative Party conference - October 2011

You may well be wondering, why are SITA UK presenting their views on Renewable Energy development? Isn’t it just a waste company?

In fact, the opposite is true. I was pleased to be able to inform the audiences of a little known fact regarding the production of renewables. This is that the waste industry today provides half of all the renewable energy produced in the UK through biogas captured at landfill sites and existing energy-from-waste plants.

With the Government targeting a significant growth in the production of renewable energy, it’s important to recognise the potential for our industry to contribute. This fact was highlighted recently by the Institute of Civil Engineers in a report which estimated that the potential for electricity generation from waste could be as high as 17 per cent of the total electricity needs for the UK. This is equivalent to around 8 per cent in terms of renewable energy.

What is surprising is that this considerable potential is repeatedly ignored by both national and local politicians who prefer to concentrate on other renewable energy sources such as wind. It’s difficult to perceive that here is a ready source of energy, with an industry ready to invest in its future development that meets all the criteria for new energy sources – being secure, affordable and with a positive carbon impact – yet rarely gets a look in.

Let’s hope that the Minister and our other political representatives listened and see the potential for energy from waste. Harnessing this excellent base load energy would be a perfect complement to other renewable sources, whilst at the same time beginning to address the spectre of the energy gap before it is upon us in 2015 following the closure of our old coal and nuclear power plants.

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