Although the energy transition law does not explicitly mention waste energy recovery, it remains fully relevant in terms of hierarchy of treatment schemes, all the more since the Waste Plan 2015/2025 provides for the overall maintenance of capacities as well as the improvement of the performance of incineration plants. There is still a need, however, to strengthen or even build the role and image of such facilities on their territories.
In Copenhagen, a ski slope was built on the roof of an incineration plant… This seemingly wacky Danish project shows how good the image of energy recovery facilities can be in countries other than France.
The objective was set for incineration plants, within the framework of the Waste Plan project, to improve the energy efficiency of household refuse by closing UIOMs, by 2025, in which no energy recovery is made, on the one hand and, on the other hand, by requiring 50% of energy recovery units become sufficiently efficient, if not already the case. In parallel, the LTECV requires that amounts of renewable heat and cold and recovery levels, by 2030, be multiplied by 5.
Basically, the debate should be appeased with the approved – or upcoming – closure of underperforming facilities. Incineration remains a solution of quality for so-called “ultimate” waste whose energy efficiency, based on the Ademe’s main figures, has strongly increased over the past few years. Although the Waste Plan does not provide for the development of new structures, it takes the saturation of existing incineration plants (saturation due to refusals of sorting as a replacement for household refuse, whose quantities will keep decreasing) and a constant capacity of energy recovery into account, and emphasises the need to develop a 2 to 2.5-million ton capacity to produce energy from SRF, in order to reach the target of a 50% reduction of amounts stored by 2025 compared to 2010.
But the situation is not that clear. Although the “waste vacuum” effect is no longer feared, it remains difficult to create the conditions for investments needed to optimise current facilities. This will beforehand require improving the image that elected officials, land and urban planners as well as populations have of incineration. It raises the challenge of awareness-raising, with lots of room for improvement: what should be done to show (demonstrate) the value of projects, anchor them into local territories, federate people around them? It is clearly indispensable, to achieve this, to stress how these facilities are likely to create sustainable employment. This is illustrated by the examples presented, during the Assises, by three local authorities: the SIGIDURS (household refuse management public service of the Eastern part of the Val d’Oise department), the SIDEPAQ (intermunicipal association of Quimper Communauté), and Artois C, in the conurbation community of the Pas-de-Calais department.
Energy efficiency indeed requires the saturation of existing UIOMs on the one hand, and the presence of energy consumers in their vicinity on the other hand. And yet, these facilities were sometimes established too far away from consumers and urban networks (heat production network, businesses, industry) to avoid protestations. It is difficult, nowadays, to attract new activities in the vicinity of facilities, as the availability of competitive energy over time and current funding schemes are not sufficient.
It could thus be imagined, at the level of local authorities, to enable the treatment of new waste (to the exclusion of local associations or residual household waste), at market prices, to saturate the UIOMs, but also to adapt subsidies awarded to promote industrialisation around facilities… Without forgetting to build a different communication explaining that such energy production tools are established to benefit territories, with heat production at a reduced VAT, the creation of businesses and jobs, etc.
SIGIDURS: Syndicat Mixte pour la Gestion et l’Incinération des Déchets Urban de la Région de Sarcelles (Joint Association for Management and Incineration of Urban Waste of the Sarcelles Region)
SIDEPAQ: Syndicat Intercommunal pour l’Incinération des Déchets des Pays de Quimper (Intercommunity for Incineration of Waste of Pays de Quimper)
UIOM: Usine d’Incinération des Ordures Ménagères (Household Refuse Incineration Plant).