Energy from waste (EfW): a feasibility study on the economic and the environmental co-benefits of biogas production within rural communities
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Energy from waste (E/W) technologies in the form o f biogas plants, CHP plants and other municipal solid waste (MSW) conversion technologies, have been gaining steady ground in the provision o f energy throughout Europe and the UK. Urban Waste Water Treatment Plants (UWWTP) are utilising much o f the same biochemical processes common to these E/W plants. Previous studies on Centralised Anaerobic Digestion (CAD) within Ireland found that the legislative and economic conditions were not conducive to such an operation on the grounds o f low energy price for electric and heat energy, and due to the restrictive nature o f the allowable feedstocks. Recent changes to the Irish REFIT tariff on energy produced from Anaerobic digestion; alterations to the regulation o f the allowable use o f animal by products(ABP); the recent enactment o f the Renewable Energy D irective (09/28/EC) and a subsequent review o f the draft Biowaste Directive (2001) required that the issue o f decentralised energy production in Ireland be reassessed. In this instance the feasibility study is based on a extant rural community, centred around the village o f Woodford Co Galway. The review found that the prevailing conditions were now such that it was technically and economically feasible for this biochemical process to provide energy and waste treatment facilities at the above location. The review also outlines the last item which is preventing this process from becoming achievable, specifically the lack o f a digestate regulation on land spreading which deals specifically with biowaste. The study finds that the implementation o f the draft EU biowaste regulations, with amendments for Cr and Hg levels to match the proposed Irish regulation for compost, would ensure that Ireland has some o f the most restrictive regulations in Europe for this application. The delay in completing this piece o f legislation is preventing national energy and waste issues from being resolved in a planned and stepwise fashion. A proposed lay out for the new Integrated Waste from Energy Plant (IW/EP) is presented. Budget economic projections and alternative revenue streams are outlined. Finally a review o f the national policies regarding the Rural Development Plan (RDP), the Rural Planning Guidelines (RPG) and the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) are examined against the relevant EU directives.
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