Monday, 7 May 2018

Get ya ROCs off!

On April 30th 2018 Resource Recovery Solutions Derbyshire Ltd (RRS) announced that their controversial waste gasification incineration plant had been granted ROCs - Renewable Obligation Certificates for the electrical energy they will produce from the biodegradable aspect of household waste which the plant will take in for burning.
Renewi one of the parent companies of RRS released a press release relating to the granting of ROCs to the Sinfin Lane, Derby project which contain quite a degree of hot air.
They stated that "Up to 98% of the residual waste managed at the facility will be diverted from landfill, which will also generate enough green electricity to power approximately 14,000 homes."
While the plant may generate enough electricity for 14,000 homes - that is yet to be shown one thing is for sure - an unconfirmed percentage of the power generated will come not from so called green electricity - which is considered by the likes of OFGEM as biodegradable wastes being combusted but in fact non biodegradable waste such as plastics - ie fossil fuels.
It is fact (confirmed via FOI/EIR) that in the city of Derby 9,000 properties have no recycling scheme in place - after Derby City Council removed the service stating recycling bin contamination as an excuse.
What this means is that a percentage of waste entering the Sinfin facility will have had no prior recycling applied to it. Paper and card should have been recycled removing it from the residual waste stream entering the Sinfin site in Derby. Instead such material is condemned to be burnt to generate OFGEM funded electricity via ROC payments - ROCs being funded from green charges applied to our energy bills.
Has recycling been removed in the city to procure suitable waste to generate lucrative ROC payments?

Someone called James Priestley said the following-

James Priestley, Managing Director of Renewi’s Municipal Division, said:

 “We are delighted to have been awarded this important ROCs accreditation which is another significant milestone achieved in this project. Not only does this accreditation bring financial support to the project, it also shows how we are using innovative technologies to operate sustainably, divert waste from landfill and create valuable products from waste. We are looking forward to completing the final stages of commissioning and to providing first class, sustainable waste services for the people of Derby and Derbyshire.”
  Now when you use the terms innovative and first class you think ground breaking and efficient and you could be forgiven for thinking this applied in the Derby projects case but the reality is somewhat different.
At the second public inquiry into the project the planning inspector required RRS to provide evidence of their projects energy efficiency status - an important aspect of the project which was a useful insight into the project.

At the second public inquiry RRS were forced to admit that
 in the plants standard electricity only mode their plant was in fact nothing more than what is known as a D10 disposal plant because the energy efficiency status of the process falls below that which would class the plant as an efficient recovery process.

To see what the Waste Framework Directive says about a plant being recovery R1 or disposal D10 below is a series of quotes from the directive.

Recovery or disposal – the meaning of R1

47. The Waste Framework Directive (WFD) sets out the waste hierarchy and enshrines it in law. It requires that a waste management route defined as recovery should be used ahead of an alternative that is classified as disposal. Exceptions can be made (see below) but this general principle makes it important to know whether a process is considered recovery or disposal. 

48. Historically the Waste Framework Directives have included annexes which set out lists of what are considered to be recovery or disposal operations. Each is given a number and a letter: R for recovery, D for disposal. In the current directive the classifications of particular relevance to energy from waste are: • R1 – Use principally as a fuel or other means to generate energy • D10 – Incineration on land 

49. What this means is that where waste is burnt as a fuel to generate energy it can potentially be considered a recovery operation (R1) but where the purpose of incineration is to get rid of waste, it is considered D10 and hence disposal.  All municipal waste incinerators were and are deemed as disposal activities (D10) unless and until they are shown to meet the requirements of R1. This is why the term R1 often crops up in the debate about how good an energy from waste plant might be and how it compares to other options. 

50. For municipal solid waste, which includes all the waste collected from households, the EU has gone further by defining what it considers to be sufficient for recovery status under R1. The WFD includes a formula relating to the efficiency of the combustion plant. A municipal waste combustion plant can only be considered to be a recovery operation under R1 if it generates energy and the plant meets the efficiency thresholds calculated using the R1 formula


Why are OFGEM supporting inefficient waste gasification incineration plants? the lure of lucrative subsidies in this case in Sinfin Derby has in part led to the route this project has taken which is condemning resources to being burnt for a small amount of energy made financially viable by government subsidy.

OFGEM are rewarding failure.



  1. When I complained to councilor Banwaite about the removal of recycling from my street when it was announced, he took the time to call me one evening desperate to reassure me that all waste going to the new site at Sinfin would be pre-processed on site to ensure that any recyclable content was removed and recycled... I thought if was a fib then, and certainly sounds like one now.

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