It’s that time of year again. It’s raining in London, Easter eggs have begun prematurely appearing in shops, and the Energy from Waste Conference is just around the corner.
But the 16th annual EfW conference is one to be particularly excited about because 2020 is an unusual year, in many ways.
Aside from Brexit actually happening, public concern about the climate crisis is skyrocketing, and with the Environment Bill recently reintroduced and setting out measures for extended producer responsibility, deposit return schemes, and a levy on single-use plastics, the UK’s waste management industry is stepping into the spotlight.
The EfW industry is more dynamic and important than ever, and fittingly, this year’s conference boasts a slew of top international speakers, and record attendee numbers.
But what exactly are the key issues under discussion at this year’s conference?
The role of EfW in building a low-carbon, circular economy
Experts from across policy, industry, and consulting will nut out where EfW fits within the emissions-conscious resources sector, and how it can help tackle the climate crisis.
Indaver chief executive Paul de Bruycker’s keynote address, titled Supporting the move to a low-carbon and circular economy – the role of waste to energy, will explore how EfW complements other waste management efforts such as recycling and reduction, and what its role is in a world that is gradually moving towards less waste.
Day 1’s leader panel – involving Ian Brooking, chief executive at CoGen; Phil Piddington, managing director at Viridor; Julia Watsford, UK managing director at Wheelabrator Technologies; and Thomas Obermeier, chief executive of TOMM+C Management and Consulting – will consider the shape of the EfW industry in the next two decades. The experts will ask how decarbonisation will affect the industry, taking into account renewable energy demand and changing feedstock patterns.
Rachel Solomon-Williams, head of low-carbon fuels at the Department for Transport, and Dr Ausilio Bauen, director at E4Tech, will also offer a consideration of what the optimum use of residual waste measured by its carbon impact is, and an analysis of waste’s use as a transport fuel.
Meanwhile Myles Kitcher, managing director at Peel L&P Environmental, and John Ferguson, director at EcoideaM and head of strategy at Binn Eco Park, will ask perhaps the most important questions of all: can EfW reposition itself on carbon measures? What are the opportunities for development?
John Saunders, investment director and head of the heat network delivery unit at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, Oliver Feaver, researcher and project coordinator at PolicyConnect, and Tim Rotheray, director of innovation and regulations at Viridor will lead a talk on this hot topic. They’ll ask, what’s the role of EfW and its heat production? And what government policies are needed to help solve the riddle of low-carbon heating?
Morten Duedahl, business development manager at DBDH, and Ben Lynch, associate director of energy engineering at Antithesis, will then consider Denmark’s widespread heat networks and ask how contractual structures, ESCos, and de-risked finances have driven the country’s success.
The next day, Matt Hindle, policy director at the Energy Networks Association, will ask what the challenges are around decarbonising heat and explore the current situation for waste to hydrogen and waste to gas.
In a key address on this evergreen topic, Chris Holmes, partner at Foresight Group and co-lead adviser to JLEN, will speak about the current investment environment, and particularly about how concerns about climate change and sustainability are driving changes in investment decisions.
A panel of experts will also examine the industry from an investor’s perspective. Allan Vlah, director of infrastructure at Aviva Investors, Jeff Gibbon, director of energy and environmental finance at EY, James Samworth, partner at Greencoat Capital, and David Harradine, director of project finance at ABN AMRO Bank NV, will discuss what provides investors with cash flow certainty in a post-subsidy world. Where are funds likely to come from? And will the UK maintain investment discipline as EfW capacity expands?
A personal highlight
I’m eager to hear from experts on all of these popular industry issues. But if I had to choose, I’m most excited for the session on carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS/CCS), led by Ronald de Vries, project manager at Twence, Oscar Graff, vice president and head of CCUS at Aker Solutions, and René de Schutter, business development and sales manager of energy and environment at Bilfinger Tebodin Netherlands BV.
Drawing on their companies’ pioneering experience with carbon capture technology, these experts will consider the future of integrating CCUS/CCS with EfW plants. They will outline the mechanisms and logistics of the technology involved, explore technical challenges and solutions, and consider the market.
In our increasingly carbon-conscious world, the promise of CCUS/CCS will surely draw interest – and investment. I look forward to learning about how the EfW industry can be involved.