According to reports, by the end of this year, Delhi will have its second waste-to-energy plant generating electricity at the landfill near Ghazipur. A similar plant, Timarpur Okhla Waste to Energy plant, sited in the vicinity of a residential colony and a hospital, has started generation since the beginning of this year.
The Delhi government is buoyant that it has finally found a solution to tackling the ever-increasing piles of waste. No government wants to grapple with millions of tonnes of waste dumped on prime land, polluting the groundwater and the air and threatening to multiply.
Delhi, with limited space, views waste-to-energy plants as a win-win solution. “Energy production is incidental. Our main concern is waste,” says Shakti Sinha, Principal Secretary, Power, summing up the government’s perception of these plants.
“The plants are absolutely safe,” he asserts. “We use state-of-the-art technology, and these are run as per the European Union norms…
With waste to landfill becoming an ever critical concern, the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) calls to attention the necessity for managing all our waste streams, especially that of organic waste.
Anything from 35% to 40% of all waste that is sent to landfill is organic; that is, of plant or animal origin, and able to be broken down by other living organisms. “Something that is not often stressed, is that despite the fact that waste may be organic, once it reaches a landfill and decomposes under anaerobic conditions (where oxygen is not present), it is responsible for producing quantities of methane gas as well as releasing potentially hazardous chemicals into the landfill’s leachate, and thence into the groundwater,” says Stan Jewaskiewitz, president of the IWMSA.
Landfills have limited lifespans
“We may think that our biodegradable waste is fairly harmless, but this is a misconception and needs…
According to a recent study, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region offers almost 45 percent of the world’s total energy potential from all renewable sources that can generate more than three times the world’s total power demand. Apart from solar and wind, MENA also has abundant biomass energy resources which have remained unexplored to a great extent. According to conservative estimates, the potential of biomass energy in the Euro Mediterranean region is about 400TWh per year. Around the region, pollution of the air and water from municipal, industrial and agricultural operations continues to grow. The technological advancements in the biomass energy industry, coupled with the tremendous regional potential, promises to usher in a new era of energy as well as environmental security for the region.
The major biomass producing countries are Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Jordan. Traditionally, biomass energy has been widely used in rural areas for domestic purposes in the MENA region, especially in Egypt, Yemen and Jordan. Since most of the region is arid or semi-arid, the biomass energy potential is mainly contributed by municipal solid wastes, agricultural residues and industrial wastes.
Municipal solid wastes represent the best source of biomass in Middle East countries. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait rank in the top-ten worldwide in terms of per capita solid waste generation. The gross urban waste generation quantity from Middle East countries is estimated at more than 150 million tons annually. Food waste is the third-largest component of generated waste by weight which mostly ends up rotting in landfill and releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The mushrooming of hotels, restaurants, fast-food joints and cafeterias in the region has resulted in the generation of huge quantities of food wastes.
In Middle East countries, huge quantity of sewage sludge is produced on daily basis which presents a serious problem due to its high treatment costs and risk to environment and human health. On an average, the rate of wastewater generation is 80-200 litres per person each day and sewage output is rising by 25 percent every year. According to estimates from the Drainage and Irrigation Department of Dubai Municipality, sewage generation in the Dubai increased from 50,000 m3 per day in 1981 to 400,000 m3 per day in 2006.
The food processing industry in MENA produces a large number of organic residues and by-products that can be used as biomass energy sources. In recent decades, the fast-growing food and beverage processing industry has remarkably increased in importance in major countries of the region. Since the early 1990s, the increased agricultural output stimulated an increase in fruit and vegetable canning as well as juice, beverage, and oil processing in countries like Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
The MENA countries have strong animal population. The livestock sector, in particular sheep, goats and camels, plays an important role in the national economy of respective countries. Many millions of live ruminants are imported each year from around the world. In addition, the region has witnessed very rapid growth in the poultry sector. The biogas potential of animal manure can be harnessed both at small- and community-scale.