Reader letter: £63m scheme is ‘greenwash’

Councillor Cereste is mistaken if he believes his proposal for laying an electricity cable from Peterborough’s ‘Energy from Waste’ facility in Fengate to Bourges Boulevard is green and sustainable ( PT article: Landmark £63 million project to power Peterborough homes with green energy revealed).

Sunday, 1st December 2019, 12:00 pm
Cllr Marco Cereste

I have followed Peterborough’s waste treatment plans since I was the Peterborough Friends of the Earth spokesperson on the issue.

Mr Cereste is the council’s cabinet member for the environment so surely he must know that the majority of the electricity generated by the incinerator is obtained by burning plastic waste. Of course plastic is derived from fossil fuels so the incinerator will actually emit thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and will certainly add to the world’s climate change problems. So his plan is not green.

Additionally, the incinerator is an inefficient technology for generating electricity: it is only 27 per cent efficient compared to an ‘H’ class gas turbine which is 60 per cent efficient. ( Note: plastic waste should always be recycled rather than burnt. It takes seven times as much energy to manufacture a piece of plastic compared to the energy obtained from burning it).

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But the really amazing aspect of this proposal is that it does not generate any additional electricity for Peterborough. Since 2016 the Peterborough incinerator has been feeding 7.25MW of electricity direct into the national electricity grid (This is why the incinerator was constructed next door to the Peterborough power station). So Mr Cereste’s proposal would only deliver the SAME amount of electricity to Peterborough businesses and homes but by a different cable! And UK tax payers would be expected to cough up an incredible £63 million pounds for no benefit.

Another clanger dropped by Mr Cereste is his claim that it would supply enough electricity to supply half the homes in Peterborough.

When the incinerator was approved in 2014 the council claimed it would supply electricity to 15 per cent of Peterborough homes . This was reported in the Peterborough Telegraph on 08-08-14. Mr Cereste needs to check his figures.

And, finally, Mr Cereste says a pipe could be laid at the same time as his cable to convey the by-product heat from the incinerator to buildings in Peterborough. Mr Cereste should be aware that many incinerator operators have already attempted to sell their surplus heat but with little success. There is, of course, an obvious problem in that when the incinerator breaks down or when essential maintenance is carried out it ceases to supply heat. Commercial companies are obviously unwilling to install and maintain emergency heating equipment. Similarly householders would not be too happy if they lose their heating supplies.

I’m amazed that Mr Cereste could propose plans for such an ill-conceived concept. But I suspect that his real motive is to delude the people of Peterborough into believing that the council is taking measures to address its Climate Change Commitment made earlier this year. I’m afraid that it’s all council Greenwash. Let’s have some proposals from the council which really do reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases.

Richard Olive

Local Environmentalist, Beauvale Gardens,