A new report by Frost and Sullivan has shown that Europe has the largest waste-to-energy market in the world with 429 plants earning a revenue of £3.10bn in 2008.
The European Union has indirectly helped the waste-to-energy business as a push to move away from landfill resulted in the planning and commissioning of many plants during the last five years.
In addition to the Landfill Directive, a growing demand for power coupled with volatile oil prices, has made such plants a more attractive alternative. France and Germany have the most plants and are consequently hitting their landfill targets. The UK still has a long way to go to reach their targets, but many energy from waste plants have been springing up. Planning permission has been granted for new plants in Ince, Cheshire and for a food waste plant in Selby in Yorkshire in the last month alone.
However the report warned that global recession and difficulties with planning processes could hamper the momentum of future growth of the industry. It noted that strict planning regulations had already affected the speed of growth and warned that recession would make it harder to find funding for such projects. Peter Hunt, Managing Director at WasteCare says:
“It’s important that we divert waste that cannot be recycled away from landfill. Waste-to-energy plants are an important part of our overall waste plan and the government should work to ensure that growth in this area can be maintained. More importantly the EA needs to give a clear message and support what all should agree is a key component of our energy strategy going forward.”