Governments across the emerging markets are eager to tap into waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies
But many are learning that it takes more than the granting of licenses to create economically and environmentally sustainable WTE solutions. In this article, we look at a number of Southeast Asian markets to identify both new projects and barriers to adoption. We also provide several tips to help governments and planners in the successful development of their WTE initiatives.
New solutions for new imperatives
WTE technologies convert non-recyclable waste into usable forms of energy. The heat from the combustion of waste generates superheated steam in boilers, and the steam drives turbogenerators to produce electricity.
Waste management has become an imperative given that most cities are running out of landfill sites – the traditional method of disposing waste. With increasingly limited land availability and the steady growth of cities, governments need to implement effective and sustainable waste management solutions including WTE technologies.
WTE is only one part of a comprehensive, waste management plan,” says Edwin Yuen, Senior Private Sector Operation Specialist at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. “Projects should begin with waste minimization as a public policy, followed by waste recycling and WTE incineration, and ending with the remaining ash delivered to local landfills.”
WTE systems provide a highly valued source of renewable energy, but perhaps the greatest benefit of WTE today comes from its ability to convert waste into ash, reducing by up to 90 percent the volume of waste going to landfills.1 This reduction in waste can also help contain the amount of methane emissions from landfills with decomposing organic materials.2 These issues are especially important in Southeast Asia, where the urban population is projected to rise to nearly 400 million by 2030,3 requiring significant investments to cope with the rapid increase in garbage. In some areas such as Singapore, the relative lack of land for landfills is also a key factor in adopting WTE solutions.
WTE is one of several imperatives for sustainable waste management. WTE systems can be an effective supplement to fossil fuel-based power sources while also reducing landfill requirements in urban environments, generating renewable energy and producing revenue for municipalities and governments.