Mike Maudsley: "Getting the government policy framework right for ETS is crucial"

Enfinium’s CEO, Mike Maudsley, is on this year's Energy from Waste conference Leaders' Panel. He gave us insight into his thoughts on ETS, carbon capture and achieving Net Zero.
Mike Maudsley: "Getting the government policy framework right for ETS is crucial"
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Enfinium’s CEO, Mike Maudsley, is on this year's Energy from Waste conference Leaders' Panel. He gave us insight into his thoughts on ETS, carbon capture and achieving Net Zero.

You could say enfinium’s CEO Mike Maudsley has approached the waste industry with a slightly different outlook. Before joining the sector, he spent thirty years in power generation. Working on a range of power stations, from hydropower, combined heat and power to biomass, and just before moving to enfinium, working as Group Operations Director for Drax. This experience in power generation was what informed his decision to move into Energy from Waste.

The reason I took this job is because I see a huge potential for the energy from waste sector to pioneer new technologies such as carbon capture. Similar to my time working at the hydropower stations, when that technology was new and innovative, what we are trying to achieve at enfinium feels equally groundbreaking.

Enfinium has four operating sites strategically located across the UK, with an additional two currently under construction. Enfinium believes that the company’s Ferrybridge 1 & 2 sites alone could capture around 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 every year, of which 600,000 tonnes would be durable, high-quality carbon removals. “Equivalent to taking the carbon emissions of every household in Manchester out of the atmosphere, every year, whilst also generating over 90 MW of baseload, homegrown power,” said Mr Maudsley.

Carbon emissions and CCS technology will no doubt be a hot topic at this year’s Energy from Waste Conference. Mr Maudsley agrees: “The opportunity, not just at enfinium but also across our sector, is massive. Should the UK meet its ambitious waste targets, there will still be around 17 million tonnes of unrecyclable waste to manage every year by 2042. The only way to decarbonise all this unrecyclable waste is to install carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology on energy from waste facilities.”

Mr Maudsley said installing CCS will not only decarbonise unrecyclable waste but will allow EfW plants to create carbon removals or negative emissions. He explained how generating carbon negative power and creating carbon removals is crucial in achieving Net Zero.

“Net Zero cannot be achieved unless we’re also actively removing carbon from the atmosphere to account for those hardest to abate sectors and residual emissions. The Climate Change Committee estimates that by 2050, the UK will need around 60 million tonnes of engineered removals of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year to achieve net zero.

“The energy from waste sector has the opportunity to play a significant role in achieving this. Whilst our sector plays a modest role in the overall energy mix, playing our part in keeping the lights on, our role in achieving Net Zero as a nation will be hugely significant. Research from the Energy Systems Catapult suggests that the EfW sector could create 10 million tonnes of annual removals – a sixth of the Climate Change Committee target.”

Mike Maudsley is one of the speakers on this year’s EfW Conference Leaders’ panel. ETS, chemical recycling, feedstock and SAF are just a handful of the topics that will be discussed on the Leaders’ panel. But what does Mr Maudsley think will be the most important discussion?

Given the need to deploy carbon capture technology to decarbonise unrecyclable waste, getting the government policy framework right in this area is crucial.

It must be set up to facilitate private investment into CCS technology across the UK’s fleet of EfWs. That’s why I look forward to discussing the Emissions Trading Scheme - it is one of the critical levers the Government has to achieve greater investment in CCS.

We completely support EfWs introduction into the ETS from 2028 and recognise how effective it can be in creating incentives for investment into decarbonisation. However, it must be combined with other supportive policies to ensure the underlying objectives are achieved and that this doesn’t result in unintended consequences, such as more waste being sent to landfill or exported abroad to become someone else’s problem.

Like many of the other speakers on this year’s Leaders’ panel, Mr Maudsley is hoping for more clarity on the Government’s plans to include EfW in the UK’s Emissions Trading Scheme. And with a UK General Election imminent, Mr Maudsley noted the importance of working with a potential new party in power too.

“As part of their manifesto development, it’s likely that the Labour Party will look closely at new policies such as a moratorium on new energy from waste facilities, and a ban on exporting waste abroad. It’s critical that the waste sector engages constructively with Labour as the party of Opposition to ensure cross-party consensus on the need to invest in our nationally strategic waste infrastructure over the coming decades.”

Conferences offer great opportunities for businesses with similar problems to share ideas about the best solutions. “Our sector is no different,” said Mr Maudsley. “We are facing into a range of challenges – from upstream challenges such as reducing the UK’s growing waste pile or improving recycling rates, to challenges at the other end of the chain – for instance in decarbonising our fleet of energy from waste facilities or reducing the amount of waste going to landfill. I always look forward to getting together with our peers and taking the time to look forward.” 

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