5 Interesting Facts About Waste-to-Energy Projects

Waste-to-energy (also known as energy-from-waste) is a complicated technology in the realm of renewable energy. There are a lot of hidden truths and myths about this technology that people need to be aware of. Renewable energy technologies, like solar and wind, have much more simple processes and gain most of the attention from media outlets.

On the converse, renewable energy sources that are highly complex like nuclear energy have a bunch of media attention as well.

So, why don’t we discuss a bit more about this relatively unknown technology and asset class? Here I’ll discuss a number of the most important facts about waste-to-energy (abbreviated as WTE).

Interesting Facts About Waste-to-Energy

Let’s get into our facts about waste-to-energy that you need to know.

1. Waste-to-Energy Can Provide Baseload Power

The most familiar renewable energy resources such as wind and solar can only provide power if the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. WTE projects can actually provide baseload power that is used to serve consumers and the grid no matter the time of day or if the sun is shining or not.

Baseload power is essentially when intermittent resources like solar and wind become more prevalent.

2. Not All WTE Projects are Clean and Green

While waste-to-energy projects would seem to be green and clean because they turn trash into power or gas. However, some projects require long hauling of trash to bring to the actual incineration facility. This actually ends up require much more emissions from the trash haulers than alternatives.

One solution to this would be to help promote the use of electric vehicles and electric vehicle technology to be installed in trucking, like waste hauling.

3. WTE Projects Can Reduce Use of Landfills

Landfills have increased at an exponential pace the in last 100 years. Waste-to-energy projects are an awesome alternative to landfills as the trash is used to provide electricity or fuel.

WTE projects reduce waste volumes by approximately 90%, which results in fewer landfills that are needed to process ash. This ends up protecting our natural resources and land in a dramatic fashion.

5. WTE Projects have Multiple Revenue Streams

Waste-to-energy projects are extremely complicated and expensive to build. Most of the investor economic interest is driven by financial incentives, renewable identification numbers, tax credits, etc. to help these projects get financed.

Beyond these other financial incentives, some of the waste-to-energy projects produce a byproduct, named biochar, which has multiple applications and fetches good prices. The biochar can usually end up providing the most value in the revenue stream or investability of the project itself.

In addition to other economic streams, waste-to-energy projects usually require high tipping fees. A tipping fee is what the trash hauler has to pay in order to dump the trash at the facility. With WTE projects, the tipping fee can end up being 50-60% of the overall revenue stack.

5. WTE Facilities are Net Greenhouse Gas Reducers

Methane has more than 20 times the potency of carbon dioxide and is ranked as a very dangerous contributor to climate change and warming of our planet. WTE facilities avoid the productions of methane and end up producing up to 10 times more the electricity than landfill gas projects. If you didn’t know, landfills can actually end up producing electricity by capture the methane gas and compressing it into a consumable natural gas for power.

Sysav–WTE-plant-Sweden

Sweden is one of the best proponents of waste-to-energy in the world

WTE projects will usually have much more capacity than any landfill gas projects.

Conclusions

You can’t use waste-to-energy projects at your home similar to solar or even wind to get free electricity. However, knowing about projects in your area and the relevant suppliers will help you understand whether or not the technology is a perfect fit for your community. If you see a project coming online in your surrounding area, you should know how to ask the right questions.

At the end of the day, WTE projects are green and clean. They just need to have the right systems in place to make them more efficient and less risky to appeal new investor appetite. What fact was your favorite about waste-to-energy?

Do you know much about waste-to-energy projects? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

The Advantages of Eco-Friendly Energy Sources

You’ve heard all about it before: global warming and pollution have been steadily impacting our planet little by little each year. Sure, we’ve all probably been asked to write an essay about how to help solve our environmental problems, but do we really live our lives as sustainably as we should?

With all the talks about climate change, one of the most significant changes consumers can make is to switch to renewable energy. True enough, its growing popularity has made it the fastest-growing energy source in the country. You might be thinking, “Does the source of my electricity really matter?” The answer is a resounding yes! To prove it to you, we’ve rounded up the advantages of eco-friendly energy sources down below.

1. It Reduces Greenhouse Gases

Using traditional energy creates a huge environmental impact on air, water, and land resources. Currently, the world mainly produces electricity through coal and gas—two of the biggest contributors to the rising levels of CO2 on the planet.

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The accumulated greenhouse gas is responsible for the greenhouse effect, increasing the earth’s average surface temperature. Additionally, this temperature change disrupts the ecosystem,  causing more plant and animal species to decline in number, ultimately affecting our biodiversity.

In contrast, the use of renewable energy (e.g., solar, geothermal, biomass) does not require burning fossil fuels. Thus, it drives down carbon emission and significantly reduces the total amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

2. It Gets Cheaper Every Year

The growing popularity of eco-friendly energy sources has resulted in a lot of positive changes for the economy. For instance, at least two-thirds of the world now offer clean energy as a cheaper alternative to fossil fuels.

To add to that, Eligo Energy’s report discovered that 65% of Americans are willing to pay for green electricity despite it being more expensive. Due to the increased investments in new technology and government subsidies, renewable energy is steadily becoming more affordable.

Moreover, renewables, like solar and wind energy, do not have price hikes. The same cannot be said for fossil fuels which become more expensive over time. Finite resources also have extreme market volatility, something that companies have no control over. Effective policies can be done easier around renewable energy, as it offers long-term stability in the market.

3. It’s Beneficial to Your Health

It’s no secret that factories powered by coal produce dark smoke that rises to the sky. What’s worse, this smoke contains traces of mercury, arsenic, and sulfur dioxide—all toxic pollutants that pose many dangers to public health.

The smog and air pollution make us more vulnerable to respiratory diseases like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer. WHO even estimated that seven million lives are lost each year due to air pollution.

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Choosing to make use of renewables will definitely be the healthier option, as it decreases the need for more coal to be burned. Green energy answers the problem of air pollution and will pave the way for improved air quality, saving millions of lives worldwide.

4. It Saves a Lot of Water

While the earth is mainly made up of water, only a very few percent of that is usable for us humans. Therefore, water is a precious commodity we should conserve. However, power plants use hundreds of thousands of gallons of water just to generate electricity. Likewise,  the extraction and production of fossil fuels rely on a lot of water too.

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Switching to green electricity greatly helps in conserving water. For instance, wind and solar energy plants barely need water to operate; the occasional washing of solar panels and turbine planes are most probably the only times you’ll ever need water. Indeed, renewable energy sources are a long-term water-saving solution.

5. It Provides Job Opportunities

As more companies and governments venture into increasing the accessibility of green energy, more jobs have been opened to workers around the globe. In fact, these opportunities are also available for those without college degrees! Building factories, solar panels, and wind turbines are great examples of the many jobs high in demand on the market right now.

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There is also a growing need for specialists and experts. Engineers, financial analysts, renewable energy consultants, and even farmers are all needed to study the endless possibilities of clean energy for different industries.

Automakers, for example, have invested in renewables to create electric-powered vehicles. Apart from electrical and mechanical engineers, they will have to hire more assembly line workers. As these newer cars become more efficient, it won’t be soon enough for consumers to choose them over the traditional gas-fueled vehicles.

Conclusion

As climate change takes a toll on the world, we have to make significant changes to our ways before it’s too late. Fortunately, our technologies have advanced enough to be able to generate electricity from eco-friendly sources.

With all the advantages it brings, green energy is predicted to run the world a few decades from now. Indeed, renewables are the energy of the future, and it’s high time for you to make the right switch.

Carbon Market in the Middle East

Middle East is highly susceptible to climate change, on account of its water scarcity, high dependence on climate-sensitive agriculture, concentration of population and economic activity in urban coastal zones, and the presence of conflict-affected areas. Moreover, the region is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions on account of its thriving oil and gas industry.

The world’s dependence on Middle East energy resources has caused the region to have some of the largest carbon footprints per capita worldwide. Not surprisingly, the carbon emissions from UAE are approximately 55 tons per capita, which is more than double the US per capita footprint of 22 tons per year. The MENA region is now gearing up to meet the challenge of global warming, as with the rapid growth of the carbon market. During the last few years, many MENA countries, like UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have unveiled multi-billion dollar investment plans in the cleantech sector to portray a ‘green’ image.

There is an urgent need to foster sustainable energy systems, diversify energy sources, and implement energy efficiency measures. The clean development mechanism (CDM), under the Kyoto Protocol, is one of the most important tools to support renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives in the MENA countries. Some MENA countries have already launched ambitious sustainable energy programs while others are beginning to recognize the need to adopt improved standards of energy efficiency.

The UAE, cognizant of its role as a major contributor to climate change, has launched several ambitious governmental initiatives, including UAE embassy legislation, aimed at reducing emissions by approximately 40 percent. Masdar, a $15 billion future energy company, will leverage the funds to produce a clean energy portfolio, which will then invest in clean energy technology across the Middle East and North African region. Egypt is the regional CDM leader with twelve projects in the UNFCCC pipeline and many more in the conceptualization phase.

Middle East is an attractive carbon market as it is rich in renewable energy resources and has a robust oil and gas industry. Surprisingly, very few CDM projects are taking place in MENA countries with only 22 CDM projects have been registered to date. The region accounts for only 1.5 percent of global CDM projects and only two percent of emission reduction credits.

The two main challenges facing many of these projects are: weak capacity in most MENA countries for identifying, developing and implementing carbon finance projects and securing underlying finance. Currently, there are several CDM projects in progress in Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia. Many companies and consulting firms have begun to explore this now fast-developing field.

The Al-Shaheen project is the first of its kind in the region and third CDM project in the petroleum industry worldwide. The Al-Shaheen oilfield has flared the associated gas since the oilfield began operations in 1994. Prior to the project activity, the facilities used 125 tons per day (tpd) of associated gas for power and heat generation, and the remaining 4,100 tpd was flared. Under the current project, total gas production after the completion of the project activity is 5,000 tpd with 2,800-3,400 tpd to be exported to Qatar Petroleum (QP); 680 tpd for on-site consumption, and only 900 tpd still to be flared. The project activity will reduce GHG emissions by approximately 2.5 million tCO2 per year and approximately 17 million tCO2 during the initial seven-year crediting period.

Potential CDM projects that can be implemented in the region may come from varied areas like sustainable energy, energy efficiency, waste management, landfill gas capture, industrial processes, biogas technology and carbon flaring. For example, the energy efficiency CDM projects in the oil and gas industry, can save millions of dollars and reduce tons of CO2 emissions. In addition, renewable energy, particularly solar and wind, holds great potential for the region, similar to biomass in Asia.