By 2027, the waste-to-energy market is expected to be valued at 50.1 billion U.S. dollars and it is anticipated it will continue to grow from there. Following the COP26 conference, green is where the new money is. Subsidies, originally for fossil fuel industries, are being curtailed and the financial focus is on renewable energies.
Waste to Energy , WTE, simply put is where waste is burnt at high temperatures, which is used to heat water within an industrial boiler, the steam created is then used to turn turbines to create electricity for power. This birds eye view sounds simple enough but like most industrial processes detailed planning is needed to ensure the integrity of the process, the safety of staff and the community. Like most new technologies WTE has been viewed with some concern, not over the process itself, but the emissions released from the facility, which questioned its green credentials. A number of pre-incineration processes, such as the removal of ferrous metals, to go for recycling, has reduced the amount of pollutants emitted but has made the economic viability of this process more questionable.
New incinerators have therefore, been created to meet the stricter regulations on pollution allowing for the continued growth of this industry. Improved process methodologies and newer technologies are allowing for further development of this energy option helping to achieve economic viability.
This industry has had significant growth in Europe, with China and Japan becoming increasingly interested in developing this form of energy. Increasing government funding for municipal solid waste management along with growing awareness regarding waste to energy plants across various economies such as India, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand are expected to push the regional market growth.
There are over 400 waste energy facilities within Europe, another 300 are across the globe. The United States currently has 86 facilities, divided mainly between New York and Florida, but is looking to rapidly expand as the rising industrial and domestic waste is prompting regional governments to promote energy generation from waste.
Within Europe, Germany, the UK and Italy are the most proactive when it comes to WTE. There are currently about 100 waste incineration plants in Germany alone with a work force of 6,000 and total annual capacity of about 20 million tons. The UK and Northern Italy are looking to expand further.
Waste Reduction Ratio
It is calculated that for every ton of solid waste there is a saving of one-ton reduction in greenhouse gases. This is the finding of the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2020. As such they are looking deeper into this form of energy production and are making several suggested recommendations to ensure economic viability and genuine green credentials. The Department of Energy made the following recommendation in Aug 2019 and this has been implemented in most of the facilities across the world.
“• Reduce operating costs and increase revenues in existing incinerator facilities. These opportunities include advanced emissions control strategies to lower costs associated with environmental compliance, development of novel corrosion-resistant materials to reduce maintenance costs, and advanced separations to recover valuable materials from ash.”*
* extracted from the Office of /energy Efficiency Renewable Energy Report Aug 2019.
Continual development of the process such as the removal of ferrous metals demonstrates the fluidity of the WTE process. As technology progresses adjustments can be made to improve the levels of efficiency within the plant, and also in the production of energy via steam.
Process instrumentation plays an important role in the operation of any such plant and Delta Mobrey have already worked with several WTE plants. We have provided the expertise and the solutions needed to keep such plants in operation. Delta Mobrey’ Hydrastep system has been used in many such WTE plants to monitor the boiler drum interface levels and ensure their safe operation, whilst pressure and temperature instruments measure other critical parameters.
Like most new technologies there is continual development focussed on making this method of energy production both financially and environmentally viable. We will be watching the developments and working with interested parties to assist in the growth and development of this energy source.