Waste to Energy Technologies and Market Outlook

The global market for thermal and biological waste-to-energy technologies is set to reach at least $6.2 billion in 2012 and grow to $29.2 billion by 2022. Pike Research Consulting Firm estimated that the world generated over 2 billion tonnes of municipal waste and that this figure is going to increase over the next decade[1]. Due to these estimations, it should be expected for waste-to-energy (WTE) processes will become available at lower prices during the next few years. Some of the drivers for these technologies are population growth, urbanization, and rising standards of living.

It is also expected that WTE systems will convert more than 261 million tonnes of waste per year into an estimated 283 terawatt-hours of electricity and heat generation. Although combustion technologies continue to lead the market, advanced thermal treatment (ATT) technology deployments such as pyrolysis are expected to pick up as diminishing landfill capacity improves WTE economics.  Utilization of biological technologies is also expected to increase worldwide[2].

Waste-to-Energy (WTE) encompasses thermal and biological conversion technologies that unlock the usable energy stored in municipal solid waste (MSW) to generate electricity and heat. By reducing waste volumes by 90% or more and avoiding methane gas emissions from landfill decay, WTE offers an attractive option to promote low-carbon growth in the crowded renewable energy landscape[3].

Advanced Thermal Treatments (ATT) are technologies that use heat to treat household rubbish. The two main types of treatment are called Gasification and Pyrolysis.  The diagram below shows the general operation of a Pyrolysis or a Gasification facility.


Gasification and Pyrolysis facilities would be considered as one piece of the jigsaw when considering what to do with your rubbish. After everything that can be has been recycled and composted they provide a method of disposing of rubbish that is not in Landfill and that can produce useful energy in the form of electricity and heat and useful products such as Syngas that can be used in chemical production[4].

The constant development of WTE technologies can help in the production of clean sources of energy as a substitute for coal, oil, and gas, for electricity generation and transportation purposes. The real question here is if countries such as the U.S. whose economy relies strongly in the oil and gas sector, will support the use of these type of technologies. In the meanwhile, China is already in the midst of scaling up capacity, and growth there is expected to shift the center of the WTE universe away from Europe to Asia-Pacific.



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One response to “Waste to Energy Technologies and Market Outlook

  1. Chad Blevins

    It’s interesting to watch the development of the WTE and WTF (Waste to Fuels) technologies… because of the partial intersection of their feed-stock streams.
    The efficiency of the conversion processes and the value of the end product (liquid fuel vs electricity) will be determining factors in which route will capture the overlapping waste stream inputs.

    Enerkem and Agilyx are two WTF companies that have raised big money in this space.


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