- Category: Low-Carbon Biz
31 Jul 2012
- Published on Tuesday, 31 July 2012 10:28
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Rapid urbanization and population growth bring accompanying societal problems such as energy supply shortages and increasing waste volumes. The good news is that the solution to the first problem could be found with the second one – waste can help meet energy demands.
Over 260 million tons of waste annually will be converted to energy by 2022, forecasts the consulting firm Pike Research.
Looking at a more “optimistic scenario,” it says that the figure could even reach as much as 396 million tons per year or an equivalent of 429 terawatt hours of power.
“Ten years from now the world’s rapidly increasing urban population will generate nearly 3 billion tons of M.S.W. per year, representing an estimated 240 gigawatts of untapped energy potential,” said senior research analyst Mackinnon Lawrence.
Waste-to-energy technology is seen as an opportunity to turn the “supposed” wastes into useful power sources and promote low carbon growth, said Pike Research.
Besides providing energy, W.T.E. can bring about a substantial reduction in waste volume by as much as 90 percent, depending upon the composition and use of outputs.
In 2011, the world produced a notable amount of 2 billion tons of municipal solid waste. About three-quarters of garbage worldwide end up in dumpsites and landfills.
“The escalation in waste generation presents policy makers with a difficult choice: either expand existing landfill capacity (an unappealing, but low-cost option in many areas) or invest in new waste-to-energy capacity, which can reduce the overall volume of waste that must be dumped,” said Mr. Lawrence.
Reportedly, there are more than 800 thermal waste-to-energy plants that currently operate across 40 different countries. That number is expected to grow significantly in the coming decade, particularly in the Asia Pacific region.
The Pike analysis predicted that the Asia Pacific region will account for 54 percent of the global electricity created from waste-to-energy systems by 2022.
Waste-to-energy includes a number of emerging technologies that can generate energy from wastes in a “green” manner. Among these are thermal conversion like gasification and pyrolysis, and biochemical conversion like anaerobic digestion and fermentation. – EcoSeed Staff