MRA takes on semi-aggregator role to bring landfills into ERF

Waste and environment consultancy MRA has launched a new service to help councils benefit from the Emissions Reduction Fund.

The service will involve MRA acting on behalf of councils to help them prepare and make ERF bids for landfill abatement projects.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has high hopes for these sorts of aggregation schemes, which will bring together numerous small abatement projects and make it easier for them to obtain funding through the ERF, although the Clean Energy Regulator has so far provided little guidance for them.

Despite the uncertainty, MRA – which has long advised the waste sector on carbon-related matters – believes its aggregator-like approach can help operators of small landfills to successfully participate in the ERF from the beginning.

MRA senior carbon consultant Julien Gastaldi described it as “semi-aggregation”.

The consultancy will take on tasks on behalf of councils and private operators of small landfills as needed, ranging from business-case analysis and landfill gas project management, through to modelling and forecasting of waste volumes and emissions.

And while MRA itself won’t carry out audits to satisfy legislative requirements or give councils advice on ERF bid prices for their projects, it will help small landfill owners obtain these services.

“We will buy those services in bulk,” Gastaldi told CE Daily, enabling it to provide landfill owners with access to them at a reduced rate.

MRA will also take on the administrative tasks associated with making ERF bids and meeting ERF and CFI-method compliance requirements.

The arrangement will operate on a fee-structure based on the value of the credits that landfill owners receive, Gastaldi said.

Overcoming reluctance

A lot of councils operating smaller landfills have been “pretty reluctant to move into the ERF”, at least for a year or so, Gastaldi acknowledged.

They know it is time-consuming and administratively complex to earn carbon credits from landfill gas projects “and they are also pretty reluctant to forecast the amount of waste they will receive and the amount of landfill gas”, he said.

And, under the ERF, landfill owners need to give more attention to financial aspects associated with locking in a buyer for the credits, rather than simply taking as a given the ability to sell into a compliance market.

However, the upside of the ERF is that it offers successful bidders contracts for fixed volumes and fixed prices for seven years, he said.

That degree of certainty about revenue can be really useful, particularly for smaller projects, Gastaldi said.

By taking on many of the complexities and risks, MRA believes it can make bidding into the ERF a viable proposition for smaller landfills that lack the expertise to participate on their own, he said.

Article originally published by Carbon + Environment Daily