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Waste to Energy Solutions

Innovative Funding Solutions for Waste to Energy Solutions 

There are generally two types of waste-to-energy (WtE) or energy-from-waste (EfW) projects, namely; 

  • the large 10MW -100MW municipal solid waste (MSW) mass-burn incinerate/steam/electricity generation technology projects which are accepted as climate change tools with many reference sites and funding support worldwide.

  • the smaller 2MW niche pyrolysis/gasification/electricity generation technology projects, which are just as important but have fewer reference sites and are harder to fund


It's all about the feasibility and bankability of the project, and while Solar PV is the easier bankable solution, waste-to-energy projects are not easily understood by the financial world and are classed as niche funding projects with long lead times, and specialist funding developers are required.  

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) waste-to-energy conversion project 

First, one has to ask the most important question "What is the need for a Waste to Energy (WtE) or Energy from Waste (EfW) solution?

Next, it's important that you understand it’s primarily a Waste Management & Landfill avoidance technology, a Climate Change tool and energy production is a secondary but very valuable benefit.

Now you can focus on ensuring the project is feasible and bankable.


What makes an MSW Waste to Energy project bankable?

  • Institutional and Regulatory Framework - a well-defined institutional and regulatory framework regarding waste management/waste treatment services

  • Project Set-Up - Project finance set-up with bankable waste-gathering arrangements,

    • ​bankable waste supply and gate fee contract(s)

    • bankable electricity offtake contract(s) primarily in the form of Power Purchase Agreements (PPA)

  • Project Economics - Satisfactory mix of electricity, other offsets like steam or heat, and gate fee revenues rendering the project economically viable in order to ensure debt service under the financing.

  • Technology supplier - Reputable and experienced contractors with proven technology and references.

  • Project Structure - are you an Independent Power Producer (IPP) or Public-Private Partnership (PPP) structure?

Waste to Energy as a baseload carbon-neutral energy source

Harnessing waste-to-energy as a baseload energy source and incorporating carbon capture solutions is an innovative and sustainable approach to meeting our energy needs while reducing carbon emissions. Waste-to-energy technology has the potential to not only address the increasing waste management challenge but also provide a reliable and carbon-neutral source of energy.

The first step in harnessing waste-to-energy is the efficient collection and sorting of waste materials. Different waste streams such as municipal solid waste, agricultural residues, and industrial waste can be processed to extract valuable energy. Advanced sorting technologies and waste management systems can help optimize the collection process, ensuring that the appropriate waste materials are diverted to energy conversion facilities.

The energy conversion process involves various methods such as incineration, gasification, or anaerobic digestion, depending on the type of waste. Incineration is a common technique where waste is burned at high temperatures, generating heat that can be used to produce steam and drive turbines for electricity generation. Gasification converts waste into synthetic gas (syngas), which can be used for power generation or as a raw material for other industrial processes. Anaerobic digestion breaks down organic waste in the absence of oxygen, producing biogas that can be used for energy production.

To ensure the carbon neutrality of waste-to-energy systems, it is crucial to implement carbon capture solutions. Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies can capture and store the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted during the waste-to-energy conversion process. This prevents the release of CO2 into the atmosphere, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. The captured CO2 can be either utilized for various industrial applications or stored underground in suitable geological formations.

Implementing CCUS technologies requires a robust infrastructure for CO2 transportation and storage. Pipelines can be used to transport captured CO2 to suitable storage sites, such as depleted oil and gas reservoirs or deep saline aquifers. Monitoring and verification systems should be in place to ensure the safe and permanent storage of CO2.

Moreover, waste-to-energy systems can contribute to a circular economy by recovering valuable resources from waste streams. Materials such as metals, glass, and plastics can be separated and recycled, reducing the demand for virgin resources and minimizing the environmental impact of resource extraction.

To promote the adoption of waste-to-energy as a baseload energy source, governments, industry stakeholders, and research institutions should collaborate to develop supportive policies, incentives, and regulatory frameworks. Financial mechanisms such as feed-in tariffs and carbon pricing can encourage investment in waste-to-energy projects and make them economically viable. Additionally, research and development efforts should focus on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of waste-to-energy technologies, as well as advancing carbon capture and storage techniques.

In conclusion, harnessing waste-to-energy as a baseload energy source with carbon capture solutions is a promising approach to address waste management challenges while reducing carbon emissions. By efficiently converting waste into energy and capturing and storing CO2, waste-to-energy systems can provide a reliable and carbon-neutral source of power. The integration of waste-to-energy into our energy mix can contribute to a more sustainable and circular economy, helping us transition towards a low-carbon future.


How does a mass-burning waste-to-energy plant work?


Municipal solid waste (MSW) waste-to-energy projects use trash as a fuel for generating power, just as other power plants use coal, oil, or natural gas. The burning fuel heats water into steam that drives a turbine to create electricity. The process can reduce a community’s landfill volume by up to 90% and prevent one ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) release for every ton of waste burned. 

Mass burn waste to energy plant process
  • Monitor and Control - The air stream rising to the stack is continuously monitored to ensure compliance with air quality standards. The entire process can be controlled to optimize efficiency in the combustion, heat and steam generation, electrical energy, and environmental control processes.

  • What Is Waste?  Using waste as a combustion material can reduce landfill volumes by more than 90 percent. Waste to Energy prevents one ton of CO2 release for every ton of waste burned and eliminates methane that would have leaked with landfill disposal.

    • Best practices rely on the "three Rs": Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle. Recycling plastics, glass, paper, metals, and wood from the waste stream reduces the carbon and pollutants created in the burn process. Materials such as kitchen refuse, biowaste, and commercial garbage are ideal for combustion.

  • Material Process  - Waste material is received in an enclosed receiving area, where it is more thoroughly mixed in preparation for combustion. Negative airflow will carry dust and odor into the combustion chamber from the receiving area, along with the waste to eliminate its spread outside the facility.

  • Efficient Combustion - Mixed waste enters the combustion chamber on a timed moving grate, which turns it over repeatedly to keep it exposed and burning—the way turning over or poking a fireplace log brightens the fire. A measured injection of oxygen and fumes are drawn from the receiving area makes for a more complete burn.

  • Fly Ash Capture - Although fly ash is captured throughout the process, the finest airborne particulates are removed in the filter baghouse, where an induction fan draws air through fabric bags toward the stack or chimney. This process removes 96 percent of any remaining particulates. The bags are vibrated at intervals to shake loose particulates caked on their inner and outer surfaces. Captured fly ash is often returned to landfills.

  • Acid Gas Treatment - The acidic combustion gasses are neutralized with an injection of lime or sodium hydroxide. The chemical reaction produces gypsum. This process removes 94 percent of the hydrochloric acid.

  • Bottom Ash Recycling The unburned remains of combustion—"bottom ash"—are passed by magnets and eddy current separators to remove both ferrous (steel and iron) and other metals—such as copper, brass, nickel, and aluminum—for recycling. The remaining ash can be used as aggregate for roadbeds and rail embankments. Ash is generated at a ratio of about 10 percent of the waste’s original volume and 30 percent of the waste’s original weight.

  • Steam Power Generation - Highly efficient superheated steam powers the steam turbine generator. The cooling steam is cycled back into the water through the condenser or diverted as a heat source for buildings or desalinization plants. The cooled stream is reheated in the economizer and superheater to complete the steam cycle.

  • Mercury and Heavy Metal Capture - Activated carbon (charcoal treated with oxygen to increase its porosity) is injected into the hot gases to absorb and remove heavy metals, such as mercury and cadmium.

  • NOX Treatment Dioxins/Furans Treatment - Nitrogen oxide in the rising burn gases is neutralized by the injection of ammonia or urea. Dioxins and furans are destroyed by exposing flue gases to a sustained temperature of 1,562°F/850°C for two seconds. This process removes more than 99 percent of dioxins and furans.

  • Electric Power and Heat - A 1,000-ton-per-day WTE plant produces enough electricity for 15,000 households. Each ton of waste can power a household for a month. If combined with a cogeneration plant design, WTE plants can, while producing electricity, also supply heat for nearby businesses, desalination plants, and other purposes.

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