Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It’s a Gas - A Minister for Waste

Via the Institution of Engineering & Technology
A minister for waste should be appointed to make the most of rubbish that could be worth billions to the economy.
The Lords Science and Technology Select Committee said the UK produced almost 100 million tonnes of carbon-containing waste a year, of which a considerable amount could be turned into high-value products including chemicals, fuel and even fragrances.
The peers concluded that the government was "not sufficiently seized of the potential economic prize" of fully developing a "bioeconomy" using waste products and a Waste Champion should be appointed to ensure that "where there's muck, there's brass".
The committee’s report said that the technology exists for green biorefineries that can bring several processes together to generate multiple products, in the same way as oil refineries do, such as energy in the form of combined heat and power, various chemicals and plastics, fuel-grade ethanol and other fuels and even products such as paper.
More ….
Gasrec is very pleased:
Gasrec, Europe’s leading supplier of liquefied gas fuel to the transport sector, welcomes the House of Lords report Waste or resource? Stimulating a bioeconomy which was issued by the Science and Technology Committee on 06 March 2014.
The report notes that around 100 million tonnes of carbon-containing waste is available every year to be exploited as a resource and that a Minister in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) should be given responsibility for the development of a waste based, high value bioeconomy.
Gasrec owns and operates its own biomethane liquefaction plant – sourced from sustainable landfill methane. Its product, bio-LNG, combines biomethane with liquefied natural gas and is used to fuel more than 60% of the gas powered HGVs on UK roads. This low emission fuel allows HGV operators to cut fuel costs and significantly reduce pollution.
Commenting on the House of Lords report and its recommendations, Rob Wood, Gasrec’s chief executive officer, said:
“We firmly support the proposal for a government Minister to champion a waste-based, high value bioeconomy. A coordinated focus in this area is long overdue and would bring considerable benefit.“However, to obtain maximum value for the energy a bioeconomy would generate it will be critical for the Minister to address the subsidy regimes currently in place. For example, reducing emissions from heavy goods vehicles by using biomethane as a transport fuel would contribute significantly to meeting carbon reduction commitments and greatly improve air quality.
“But the attractiveness of using this fuel in transport is widely undermined by current subsidy regimes. At present these encourage the three sources of biomethane – landfill, sewage and anaerobic digestion – to be used for power or heat rather than as a transport fuel. This is despite power and heat applications only displacing lower emission natural gas, whereas as a transport fuel, biomethane displaces the far higher emissions related to the use of diesel.“Addressing such issues will be a key early challenge for the success of any waste-based, high value bioeconomy.”
Note 1: Strange how our free market economy has all these “subsidies” innit?

Note 2: Gasrec counts among its clients “Coca-cola” which is apparently very good for cleaning toilets. But not London buses, which are moving to Bio-Diesel.

National Geographic:
Unfortunately, [with Bio-Diesel] the process of growing the crops, making fertilizers and pesticides, and processing the plants into fuel consumes a lot of energy. It's so much energy that there is debate about whether ethanol from corn actually provides more energy than is required to grow and process it. Also, because much of the energy used in production comes from coal and natural gas, biofuels don't replace as much oil as they use.
This is Money:
Half of the UK’s household gas needs can be met by burning the rubbish we throw out.
Within the next decade, it is claimed, Britain can turn the contents of its bins into usable gas – creating tens of thousands of jobs in the process.
The bad news? More than 500 power plants and recycling centres need to be built to give the UK the capacity to process so much rubbish.
Constructing these sites alone will cost up to £25billion –

So a new technology requires capital investment and er state support, ie subsidy. £25billion sounds a lot doesn't it. But how does it compare to just one deep sea oil rig? And don't forget that those pioneers of the free market, the federal US government, poured billions of dollars of tax breaks into shale gas production.


  1. Minister for waste? I thought they all supported it......

  2. How about a Minister for Waist to tackle obesity?