Mor Hafren: Energy Recovery Facility

Received 21 November 2020
From Oliver Lancaster


This technology is not aligned with Wales achieving net zero carbon emissions.

Not only does this technology provide electricity with a higher carbon intensity than any natural gas fired generation sources (CCGT, reciprocating gas engines), it will be the highest carbon intensity source on the grid in Wales, since Wales no longer has coal power (Aberthaw closed in December 2019).

The electricity generation is also inflexible, which means it generates electricity constantly with a flat profile. With ever increasing capacities of variable/intermittent generation connecting to the grid, we need sources that are flexible to fill the gaps when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. This solution is of low value to the energy system.

The highest value energy-from-waste would be to gasify it, as is due to come online in Swindon in early 2021. These plants can run continuously and the produced biogas injected into the gas grid for storage and high value flexible use for heating homes, power generation, industry and heavy transport when it’s needed. These plants are also much more easily able to capture carbon for use and therefore can produce a biogas with a negative carbon footprint. Cardiff is likely to form part of a hydrogen gas system to replace natural gas - and these waste gasification plants can provide a hydrogen output instead of biomethane and so are able to flexibly work with the energy transition. With the Prime Minister’s ‘10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’ released last week announcing 20% hydrogen blending into the gas grid from 2023, this site could potentially be used for that purpose, if using gasification technology.

I’m summary, my main points here are that it is entirely the wrong energy-from-waste technology to employ when trying to achieve net zero carbon emissions. It should also be located more distant from residential dwellings and suitable land be found for it amongst other similar industrial settings.