By Tyler Falk
Posting in Cities
New research shows an increase in energy generation from waste.
One solution that is becoming more popular with cities is a system to convert waste to energy. According to a new report from Pike Research, in 10 years cities will convert at least 260 million tons of waste to base load power or heat each year. That number could reach as much as 396 million tons per year or 429 terawatt-hours of power.
“Ten years from now the world’s rapidly increasing urban population will generate nearly 3 billion tons of MSW [municipal solid waste] per year, representing an estimated 240 gigawatts of untapped energy potential,” says senior research analyst Mackinnon Lawrence in a statement. “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.”
China, which surpassed the United States as the country generating the most municipal solid waste, is rapidly expanding its waste-to-energy facilities. By 2022, 54 percent of electricity generated from waste-to-energy systems will come from the Asia Pacific region.
But doesn't the waste-to-energy system burn trash and therefore create emissions? Yes, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that while the power plants from municipal solid waste "do emit carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas, the biomass-derived portion is considered to be part of the Earth's natural carbon cycle."
In a study comparing energy generation from landfills and waste-to-energy plants, researchers with the U.S. EPA found that burning waste can produce 10 times more energy than from buried waste. From an emissions perspective it's also the better option. Landfill energy generation produces two to six times more greenhouse gas emission per unit of electricity generated than burning waste to create energy.
Jul 26, 2012
I like the idea, but ... you state that they will burn 260 million tons of waste each year. Assuming that we will continue to produce a ton of BURNABLE waste, per person, indefinitely, how do you plan to transport this waste to the sites? Oil burning trucks? Cities are cutting back on services, not expanding them. Ditto counties/townships. And what about the things like cyanide in plastics? All of those hydrocarbons do not just give off CO2 They put things like heavy metals and even radioactive substances into the air. "...HARRISBURG, Pa. â Officials here decided seven years ago to borrow $125 million to rebuild and expand the cityâs enormous trash incinerator, which the federal government had shut down because of toxic air pollution. ..." This is where I grew up. Their incinerator has been nothing but a mufti-million dollar nightmare. It has been shut down more than operational. "...The incinerator, which the city had hoped to turn into a moneymaker, is instead $288 million in debt. The lucrative contracts to burn trash that city officials were banking on never materialized. And there is a leak in the steam line that is supposed to allow the incinerator to sell the steam it generates. ..." Never assume that what you are told is the truth or that it will ever happen. 10 years is forever in today's world. You are young. You will learn.
The 2 trash to energy plants in operation near me are constantly being hounded by regulators for air pollution violations. Ground samples of mercury and lead have detected a gradual increase in concentrations over the past 30 years in the communities near the plants. Those delicious tomatoes from your backward garden are not as healthy as you think if you live within a mile of the trash to energy plants. We used to have 4 such plants in a 20 square mile area, but regulators finally permanently shut down two after decades of serious violations. http://www.eagletribune.com/local/x1452097736/Wheelabrator-whistleblowers-split-1-million
I remember an article somewhere that said a county was going to tap into the sewers to help power houses and facilities. Maybe its better if we burn waste instead of fossil fuels. Sounds nice. Juan Miguel Ruiz GreenJoyment.com