A waste to energy or energy from waste plant converts municipal and industrial solid waste into electricity and heat for industrial processing. The energy plant works by burning waste at high temperature and using the heat to make steam. The steam then drives a turbine that creates electricity.
Apart from producing electricity, burning waste also reduces the amount of material that would probably be buried in landfills. Burning MSW reduces the volume of waste by about 80%. Thereby offering a number of social and economic benefits that can not easily be quantified.
In a world of changing values and patterns of production and consumption, the impact generated by solid waste grows at an accelerated rate. Global trend analyzed by the world bank bank indicate that waste generation in the world increases faster than the rates of urbanization or global GDP growth. In this scenario, it in necessary to encourage all actors committed to waste management to act systemically to find environmentally correct solution with scientific and technological base. The necessary measures based on the principal of circular economy, in which the products are designed with vision not only it’s use, but also for it’s recycling, avoiding or reducing the use of Virgin resources. The circular economy generates wealth and growth and requires innovation in product design and business leaders.
According to a recent study by the center for science and environment (CSE), nearly half of India ‘s waste to energy plants, meant to convert non -biodegradable waste, are at defunct.
• Moreover the existing plants are functioning at low capacity.
Since 1987, 15 WTE plants have been set up across the country, However, seven of these plants have since shut down.
• The key reasons for closure and the plants inability to handle mixed solid waste and high cost of electricity generated by them companies. Municipal solid waste in India has low calorific value and high moisture content.
As most waste sent to the WTE plants are unsegregated, they also have high inert content
These waste are not suitable for burning, and therefore to burn them, additional fuel is required which makes these plants expensive to run
• Despite the NITI Ayog, as part of the swachh Bharat mission , envisages 800 mega watt from WTE plants by 2018-19, which is 10 times the capacity by all the existing WTE plants put together.
It even proposes setting up a waste to energy corporation of India, which would construct incineration plans through PPP models.
• Most waste that are generated find their way into land and water bodies without proper treatment, causing severe water and air pollution.
• Waste to energy generates clean, reliable energy from a renewable fuel source, thus reducing dependence on fossil fuels, the combustion of which is a major contributer to greenhouse gases emissions.
• In addition to energy generation, waste to energy can fetch significant others benefit like:
Success in municipal solid waste management could lead to opportunities in other waste such as sewage waste, industrial waste and household waste. Waste to energy opportunities exit not just in India but all over the world. Thus, there could be significant international expansion into other Asian countries.
• Waste to energy is a net greenhouse gas reducer: methane is a greenhouse gas which is mostly emitted from decomposing waste in US landfills. It has more than 20 times the potency of carbon dioxide and is ranked as a dangerous contributer to climate change. Waste to energy facilities avoid the production of methane while producing almost ten times more electricity from each ton of waste compared to landfills.and waste to energy facilities are the the only solid waste compared landfills. And waste to energy facilities are the only solid waste disposal option with state of the art air pollution control technology.
• the economy of the community is enhanced:
According to the energy recovery council, the average waste to energy facility in the US is responsible for the creation of 58 full time jobs. Generally, these are salaried, skilled positions with relatively high pay and these jobs have at least a 40 year projected life.
•waste to energy is still a new concept in India. Most of these proven and commercial technologies in respect of urban waste are required to be imported.
• the cost of the project are as critical equipment for a project is required to be imported.
• In view of low level of compliance of solid waste management rules, 2016 by municipal corporation/urban local segregated municipal solid waste is generally not availability of waste to energy plants.
• Lack of financial resources with municipal corporation/urban local bodies.
•lack of conducive policy guidelines from State government in respect of allotment of land, supply of Garbage and power purchase/evacuation facilities.
• WTE have also triggered widespread criticism from citizens. For instance, there has been a continuous protest against the okhla WTE plant in Delhi for polluting the environment
In the context of climate change, focus on renewable source of energy and burgioing population, the WTEs approach is needed to address the growing energy need in a sustainable way. However, it is also important to ensure their effectiveness.
For this, urban local bodies should invest in preparing an action plan on waste management in accordance, with the solid waste management rules, 2016 within a time bound approach and promote and adopt the key elements of waste hierarchy as refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and recover.