A recent Energy from Waste Conference - the International EfW event in London, now in its 13th year - had some interesting takeaways for attendees. Speakers, including the CEO of Cobalt Energy, Ian Crummack, told the gathering about how the impact of Britain's imminent departure from the EU would likely affect the EfW industry.
The key points were:
- After Brexit, it would be 'inconceivable' for the British government to attempt to withdraw from the requirements of the Industrial Emissions Directive.
- The weakening pound would act to put ongoing cost pressures on to equipment and processes in the UK.
- Around a third of the costs involved in an EfW plant relate to processes and power generation elements, with large volumes of expertise coming from Europe.
- There will be additional costs for necessary skills and workers too, once Britain leaves the EU.
- Operating plants are likely to have minimal changes, as they are influenced by costs of permanent staff, locally available consumables and life-cycle maintenance. The UK already operates with best practices in the control of air pollution residues and bottom incineration ash as an additional plus point.
- One other positive is that the UK also has its own domestic capabilities in specialist services and spares.
- Increasingly decentralised UK energy policy will help the EfW market, particularly with industrial consumers becoming concerned over energy security of supply in the non-EU world.
- Ministerial focus remained an unknown factor.
Crummack concluded that the sector would need to grapple with increased costs and uncertainty but had shown in the past that it could be resilient and overcome obstacles. The solution, he said, was in the industry's hands to make EfW more efficient and to increase public buy-in to the benefits.