EfW Conference Leaders' Panel: Dr Christian Hower-Knobloch

Dr Christian Hower-Knobloch, Managing Director of MVV Umwelt GmbH, is participating in this year’s Leaders’ panel at the Energy from Waste conference. Dr Hower shares his and MVV’s opinions on important topics in the EfW sector ahead of the panel discussion.
EfW Conference Leaders' Panel: Dr Christian Hower-Knobloch

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Dr Christian Hower-Knobloch, Managing Director of MVV Umwelt GmbH, is participating in this year’s Leaders’ panel at the Energy from Waste conference. The panel aims to cover the most pressing topics in the EfW sector, from ETS to the role EfW can play in decarbonisation. Dr Hower shares his and MVV’s opinions on these topics ahead of the panel discussion.

Since 2019, Dr Christian Hower-Knobloch has been managing director of MVV Umwelt GmbH, a daughter company of MVV Energie AG. The group works across both Germany and now, through MVV Environment UK, the UK too. With 15 years international experience in the energy industry, Dr Hower's knowledge of the more mature EfW sector in Europe certainly makes him a great asset to the Leaders' Panel in March.

On the topic of the inclusion of EfW in the UK Emissions Trading Scheme by 2028, Dr Hower explained that MVV fully supports ETS and the expansion it will apply to their UK assets. “ETS, and the carbon reduction it aims to deliver, match our own strategy: climate protection and a net zero footprint by 2035,” he said. Which they hope to achieve by continuing an energy transition towards greener solutions, including the use of BECCUS to withdraw, permanently bind, use, or store carbon. 

Dr Hower explained MVV’s strategy regarding the ETS, including engaging with stakeholders while the UK government works on the finer details of how the scheme will operate. “MVV is actively developing a working knowledge and understanding of carbon capture and how it can be applied to our UK assets in the future to reduce carbon emissions from our activity.” 

Another big change since MVV branched out to the UK’s EfW industry is the Government’s push for carbon capture by creating financial incentives, including the Track 1 CCS cluster programme. CCU technology, according to Dr Hower, could be viable if CO2 emissions fall under the ETS scheme, which is why it is so important to get it right. But MVV's first priority in both the UK and Germany is to first implement CCS into their facilities, with hopes to add CCU in the future.

To reach the target of a zero footprint by 2035, our waste-to-energy plants in Germany and the UK play a key role,” he said. “We are currently planning to implement CCS technology at our plants first. We see CCS as a bridge technology as CCU solutions need more time to be realised.”

Part of MVV's strategy to move towards this goal is by making all their future UK projects “CCS-ready” and in Germany, they are focusing on creating carbon neutral facilities through the use of EfW in district heating. In particular, they are focusing on one of their biggest and oldest facilities in Germany, Mannheim. "Our waste-to-energy plants and biomass facility will deliver carbon-neutral heat to the grid, so we can deliver green heat, steam and electricity to the public and our industrial customers, while capturing the CO2 from the plants."

He also looked at the synergism of CCU with other aspects of the energy sector, including sustainable aviation fuels. If the ETS scheme is a success, and CCU technology is realised, Dr Hower believes the benefits for SAF would be positive. “No one holds a crystal ball in their hands, but in 20 years we will most likely have these kinds of technologies running in parallel.” 

And how much will circular economy ambitions impact on residual waste in the next ten years? Due to Germany’s more mature EfW market, you could say Dr Hower’s experience in both countries has given him a better understanding of what is in store for the UK. According to Dr Hower, circular economy ambitions will impact reducing residual waste but also affect economic growth and migration, especially with changes in the costs of exports. “Gate Fees in Germany will likely remain stable, as we have a mature market and a balanced ratio between capacities and waste volume,” he said. “Past learning from Germany's market suggests the UK might see a future decline in the mid-term, as the gap between capacities and waste volume closes.”

ETS, carbon capture, a circular economy – it is clear there is a great deal to discuss at this year's EfW Conference. Our conversation with Dr Hower only touches the tip of the iceberg.

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