Simon Galton

Liberal Democrat County & District Councillor Learn more

Incineration in Leicesterhire or is it ‘Energy from Waste’? Time for clarification

by simongalton on 27 October, 2008

Ok so there is alot of confusion in this world – sometimes words sound nicer than what they mean; because of this it is important to ensure that we as local politicians tell the truth and more importantly ensure what we say is clear – even at the risk of losing a bit of political credibility.

There are rumours that Leicestershire County Council is thinking of building an Incinerator to deal with the large volume of waste that is currently not recycled. However people will struggle to find that emotive word ‘incinerator’ in any public document the county council produces – instead the County prefers to use the term ‘Energy from Waste’ – which sounds so much better really.

However the reality is different, ‘Energy from Waste’ is not a technology it is a collection of processes that take waste and destroys it in a single process (see the wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_from_waste for more info). Broadly Energy from waste dosen’t necessarily mean incineration but neither does the County Councils use of it actually tell us what they mean.

What we do know is that the process the county is in favour of is the following “Energy from Waste with CHP”. CHP means Combined Heat and Power and is basically using the byproduct of thermotreatment (burning)  to produce electricity and heat. The theory goes that the use of CHP can offset the emissions produced by the technology with the added benefit of providing cheap heating and electricity locally (so long as you want heating all year round). However in order to make use of CHP you need to ‘burn’ a product.

So what does ‘energy from waste with CHP’ actually mean – well people need to ask the Conservative administration what it means – if i say incineration i will simply be told off! What i do know is that a technology hasn’t been selected yet and that the tendering process is along one.

However the county did have to conduct a study to apply for PFI money from the government which assumed the technology would be an incinerator and it will be against the results of this study that all offers (and other technologies) will be judged. Although the county hasn’t ‘picked’ a technology we can be pretty sure that competition needs a bit of grammar overhaul to start with we could ensure we talk honestly about Incineration as a type of Energy from Waste.

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