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The government has cut the subsidies for many renewable energy projects such as PV solar and on-shore windfarms in recent years but one area which is showing signs of life is the construction of new energy plants from waste or biomass. The renewables sector should also benefit from some major new offshore wind energy schemes which have appeared on the horizon. Amey recently unveiled plans to develop a new £200 million waste treatment facility at its Waterbeach Waste Management Park in Cambridgeshire. The new plant is expected to handle around 230,000 tonnes of household and commercial waste a year, powering 45,000 homes and creating more than 300 jobs during construction.The firm is holding local consultations on its plans for the facility which will create energy (in the form of electricity, heat or a mix of both) and through a wider range of treatment processes at the 400 acre park from where it runs a £731 million 28-year waste processing and recycling contract for Cambs County Council. (See Glenigan project id 17321225) In a coming report, ‘The Reality Gap 2017’, the waste and resource group Biffa argues for a new strategy to take advantage of the potential of energy from waste (EfW). It notes that recycling levels have plateaued (at around 45% of household waste and nearly 60% of commercial and industrial waste) and more Government intervention is needed through regulation or financial stimulus to prevent the sector running out of steam. It calls for a better infrastructure and new residual waste strategy to capitalise on EfW. Currently, almost 14 million tonnes of waste per year is currently sent to various EfW facilities to produce energy which is sold back into the grid. Meanwhile proposals for new offshore wind farm schemes around the country’s coastline are continuing to emerge. One developer in the sector, Seagreen, is proposing a wind farm in the Firth of Forth to be constructed in three phases which could generate up to 3.5 GW of power. Although it was first proposed in 2010, the schemes are still at an early stage with environmental assessments yet to be carried out. Elsewhere, ScottishPower Renewables last month received planning approval from the government for the East Anglia THREE offshore windfarm to be built 69km off the Norfolk coast with a capacity of up to 1,200 MW, enough to power nearly 1 million homes. The windfarm will cover an area of up to 305 square kilometres and will require up to 172 wind turbines and the hope is that construction will start in 2022, with the project up and running by 2025. As well as installing the turbines, the scheme will involve other significant construction work including up to four offshore collector stations, up to two offshore converter station platforms, an offshore platform for housing accommodation and numerous subsea cables. Continued Government support for offshore wind was one of the themes to emerge in late 2015 when the then energy secretary, Amber Rudd, laid out a new direction for UK energy policy. Providing cost-cutting could be accelerated, she said the Government could support up to 10GW of new offshore wind projects in the 2020s.

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