Industrial waste to energy – the United Kingdom’s experience

news: Industrial waste to energy - the United Kingdom's experience

AROUND 50 per cent of Portuguese urban household waste could be transformed into electrical energy, according to academics and experts in the waste disposal business sectors.

At a recent British Embassy-organised UK Trade & Investment seminar at the Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisbon, British experts and leaders in the recycling of industrial and biological waste demonstrated that millions of tonnes of rubbish could be harnessed into electrical energy and heat, generating millions of euros in business.

There are currently 49 mega watt installations in Lisbon, 25 installations in Porto and seven in Madeira, generating a significant market of 130 mega watts of energy from waste alone. With regards to biogas harnessing, there are six installations in Portugal (generating 20 mega watts) and the government aims to increase these by as much as 50 plants by 2010, which would correspond to 150 mega watts.

Lorraine Marais, of the Environment Industries Sector Unit (EISU) which aims to promote technology and solutions to environmental problems overseas, gave a brief overview of the key strengths of the UK’s initiatives in waste recycling into energy.

Britain continues to lead in a wide range of environmental services and projects in the industry sector.

“The UK has experienced a whole host of environmental problems, some of which Portugal is currently facing. Not that long ago, Britain was known as the ‘dirty man’ of Europe such was the record on environmental pollution and problems,” Lorraine said.She continued: “The environment is an area that the UK government has begun to treat with increasing urgency and this is demonstrated in the many innovative solutions that the UK has recently developed in waste management issues.”

The UK has solved some truly harmful environmental problems, for example, in the previously heavily industrialised areas of the Midlands, North of England and London. The River Thames is one of the better examples which, some 15 years ago, could not support life, apart from some particularly hardy microorganisms. Then, waste from the textile and leather industries flowed relatively untreated into UK rivers. Today, the UK’s environmental work has developed to such an extent that companies are tackling the means of producing energy from some of these wastes, and discharges into the Thames are now so clean that salmon and even sea horses are swimming in it again.

“The environment is one of the top items on today’s global political agenda and the UK is committed to playing a full part,” Lorraine stressed.

To help facilitate access to the UK environmental industry, the EISU has also developed an extensive database of UK suppliers of all environmental technology services. The database contains around 3,000 UK environmental goods and service companies that are active in the global market. C.G.