Developing WTE Potential
The rapid growth of energy transformation in past few decades has seen emergence of diverse clean energy alternatives for power generation including energy-from-waste, which is sustainable, indigenous, and befitting environment and society as well.
Waste-to-energy (WTE) is the process of generating energy from the incineration of waste. The product is steam/heat/electricity or a combustible fuel commodity. A WTE facility has the potential of generating about 500-700 kilowatt hours per tonne of processed waste, from residential and industrial sources.
The WTE facilities produce energy from the sustainable management of municipal solid waste (MSW), which is indeed abundant. Global MSW generation was approximately 2.01 billion tonnes per year (tpy) in 2016 and is expected to jump to 3.4 billion tpy by 2050.
The East Asia and Pacific region currently generates most of the world’s waste at 23%. The fastest growing regions are Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where total waste generation is expected to triple by 2050, respectively, making up 35% of the world’s waste.
The Arab countries are now making stride in its waste management sector, given that they are in bottom 10% of sustainable nations and are also among the regions with the largest carbon footprint. The Middle East and North Africa region is expected to double waste generation by 2050.
In 2018, 68 U.S. power plants generated about 14 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity from burning 29.5 million tons of combustible MSW. Though WTE facilities are primarily being constructed to manage waste and recover energy, added benefits are many. Increasing energy costs, environmental issues, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and exhausting landfilling capacities, are just a few reasons causing diversion to WTEs even more. According to US EPA-life cycle emission analysis, there is approximately one ton reduction in GHG emissions (or CO2 equivalents) for every ton of MSW combusted in WTEs.
Undeniably, eliminating waste and recovering energy from WTE facilities in pursuit of clean environment and efficient economy, models an effective management of today’s cities.