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Waste to Energy Projects in India

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March 17, 2023

Why in news?

Kerala government recently announced the State’s first waste-to-energy project in Kozhikode.

What is a waste to energy project?

  • Waste-to-energy projects - Waste-to-energy projects use non-recyclable dry waste to generate electricity. The waste is combusted to generate heat, which is converted into electricity.
  • The waste to energy projects is also called a trash-to-energy, municipal waste incineration, energy recovery, or resource recovery plant.
  • Status of for waste to energy - The first waste-to-energy plant was set up in Timarpur in Delhi in 1987.
  • A total of 14 waste-to-energy plants have been installed in India, out of which seven plants were closed.
  • Total quantity of solid waste generated in the country was 1,50,761 tonnes  per day in 2019-’20.

waste_to_energy_projects

What are the technologies available for waste to energy?

  • Biomethanation – It is anaerobic digestion of organic materials which is converted into biogas.
  •  Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a bacterial fermentation process that operates without free oxygen and results in a biogas
  • Incineration - Incineration technology is complete combustion of waste with the recovery of heat to produce steam that in turn produces power through steam turbines.
  • Gasification - Gasification is a process that uses high temperatures (500-1800o C) in the presence of limited amounts of oxygen to decompose materials to produce synthetic gas.
  • Pyrolysis - Pyrolysis uses heat to break down combustible materials in the absence of oxygen, producing a mixture of combustible gases, liquids and solid residues.

What is the significance of waste to energy projects?

  • Effective disposal of waste
  • Landfill and dump yards can be reduced
  • The petroleum import can be reused leading to increased economic growth
  • It can be the alternate source of energy to promote  circular economy

What are the reasons for the failure of   waste-to-energy projects?

  • Huge gap - The huge gap between the quantity and quality of waste being generated, and the capacity of the municipality to manage that waste.
  • Low inert content  - The waste has inert content which is not suitable for burning in Waste-To-Energy Project
  • Requirement of fuel - which makes the Waste-To-Energy Project unviable.
  •  Low calorific value - The municipal waste has low calorific value and high moisture content which is not suitable for electricity generation.
  • High costs of energy production - The cost of generating power from waste is around Rs 7-8/unit.
  •  While the cost at which the States’ electricity boards buy power from coal, hydroelectric, and solar power plants is around Rs 3-4/unit.
  • Environmental damage - Most of the projects are built in ecologically sensitive areas which also damage the environment.

What is the way forward?

  • People should follow strict segregation practices and also process biodegradable waste.
  • Municipality must ensure that only non-biodegradable dry waste is sent to the plant and separately manage the other kinds of waste.
  • Municipality or the department responsible for Solid Waste Management should be practical about the high cost of power generation, and include the State electricity department.
  •  A tripartite agreement between the municipality, the plant operator, and the power distribution agency.

 

References

  1. The Hindu| Waste-To-Energy Project
  2. Scroll.in | Waste to Energy
  3. The Ministry of Environment of New and Renewable Resources│ Technologies Avaliable
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