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What is the difference between an Energy from Waste (EFW) facility and an Energy Recovery Facility (ERF)?

What this document is

The replacement facility is described as an Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) because it is able to recover energy at very high levels of efficiency. The current facility at the Edmonton Ecopark is described as an Energy from Waste (EfW) facility as it is unable to achieve a predefined efficiency threshold.

This document describes the difference between an Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) and an Energy from Waste Facility (EfW).

The revised European Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) enables municipal waste incinerators to be classed as a recovery operation or disposal operation by using a formula known as the R1 energy efficiency formula. A new facility may be considered a recovery operation only if the R1 energy efficiency is greater than 0.65. The current EfW facility has a R1 energy efficiency of 0.54 and is considered a disposal operation. The replacement ERF will be designed to have a R1 energy efficiency of approximately 0.80. At this rating the replacement facility is expected to be one of the most efficient facilities in the UK.

Energy from Waste Facility or Energy Recovery Facility?

The terminology used to describe the current ‘Energy from Waste’ (EfW) facility and the new ‘Energy Recovery Facility’ (ERF) is different because the energy efficiency of the new facility is substantially higher. The EfW facility produces a significant amount of electrical energy. However, the efficiency at which the energy is produced is lower owing to the older design and the age of the plant.

The revised European Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) allows municipal waste incinerators to be classed as either energy recovery or disposal operations. A facility may be classified as an energy recovery operation provided it achieves a defined threshold of energy efficiency. The new ERF will be designed to maximise the efficiency at which heat and electrical energy is produced and will be above the threshold defined in the European Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC). This will enable the facility to be termed ‘energy recovery’.

As an energy recovery operation the new ERF is further up the Waste Hierarchy (as set out in the Waste Framework Directive) and is more beneficial than a waste disposal operation.

How is the energy efficiency determined? (The R1 Formula)

The R1 Energy Efficiency formula, within the Waste Framework Directive, is used to determine whether a facility is classed as a disposal operation (incineration of waste on land) or energy recovery operation (used principally as a fuel or other means to generate energy). An energy recovery operation achieves the key result that the non-recyclable wastes replace fossil fuels (coal, oil, and/or gas) that would otherwise have been used produce electricity and heat.

The R1 formula is used to calculate the efficiency of the plant as an indicator of its performance. This calculation considers the annual energy produced (as heat or power), the amount of energy imported, the amount of energy contained in the waste, and amount of energy contained in other auxiliary fuels (gas or oil) used for example, to start up the facility and maintain optimum temperatures. A new facility may be considered a recovery operation only if the R1 energy efficiency is greater than 0.65.

The replacement ERF will have the ability to export power to the national grid and provide heat to a decentralised energy network. The generation of heat and electrical power (as opposed to solely electricity) makes greater use of the available energy in the waste and has a positive impact on the energy efficiency. The current EfW facility has a R1 energy efficiency of 0.54 and is considered a disposal operation under the Waste Framework Directive. The replacement ERF will be designed to have a R1 energy efficiency of approximately 0.80 in a power only mode.  This figure would increase slightly with the addition of heat off-take. The new ERF will be one of a handful of facilities in the UK to have achieved the R1 Energy Efficiency status meaning it is expected to be one of the most efficient facilities in the country.

Hello! Our two planned phases of consultation have now finished. We have reviewed all of the feedback we received during both phases of the consultation and have produced a summary of the consultation report.