Real-Life Examples of Waste to Energy Implementations Worldwide

Waste to Energy Implementations are the only real solutions that can get rid of waste in a sustainable manner. But presently, the technology is new and complex with not many able to implement it efficiently for villages, towns and cities.

The advantages of a well-implemented waste to energy solution include:

  • It reduces volume of the waste with minimal or no waste sent to landfills.
  • It generates energy through gas / power, and fertilizer ensuring waste is utilized thoroughly.
  • A usable solution in small towns along with large urban centers.
  • It should lead to decentralized processing with minimal transportation and absolutely no hassles.
  • Its emissions should be aligned with defined environment norms.
  • The solution should not be costly to implement and needs to be financially viable.

The latest technology to leverage the process of gasification for converting waste into gas is called Syngas, which is then used to generate heat or power. It uses all fractions of MSW without large scale segregation and aligned with biogas plants, ensures there is no waste to go to landfills.

The systems are designed for diverse uses in rural and urban centers, and can be made financially viable if there is an upfront viability gap funding for the same.

Introduction of waste to energy technologies in several countries

Three new technologies can further lower toxic emissions, and leave minimal residue and produce syngas without combustion (burning with oxygen). They are Gasification, Plasma gasification and Pyrolysis.

Several countries have embraced these technologies for converting waste to energy in different avatars:

  • In Europe, waste to energy has also co-existed with recycling. Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands boast of large scale waste to energy facilities, and even drive the highest recycling rates.
  • A plant in Copenhagen, features a ski slope, and the Spittelau plant in Vienna is also considered to be a top tourist site owing to its incredible exterior design.
  • In the U.S., waste to energy accounted for just 12 percent of municipal solid waste in 2013. Landfilling is still viewed as an economical option in many parts of the U.S.,
  • New York has delivered 550,000 tons of waste to several waste to energy plants in other corners of the state. 25 percent of waste goes to such plants while the rest is sent to landfills, a better average compared to the national average of just 10% of waste sent to waste-to-energy plants.
  • In Palm Beach County, a $672 million state-of-the-art plant has started operations aimed to reduce waste going to landfills by nearly 90 percent. The plant is expected to generate 100 MW of electricity, and even recover a staggering 27,000 tons of metals after the process. The plant boasts of lowest emissions limits compared to other plants in the country.
  • China is expected to unveil the world’s largest waste to energy plant in Shenzhen in a five-acre facility that can incinerate 5,500 tons of waste on a daily basis, accounting for about one-third of waste generated by locals. The plant is expected to open by 2020.
  • China has introduced a huge number of waste to energy plants, from 15 plants in 2005, to more than 188 plants today.
  • Norway’s Klemetsrud plant is another notable waste to energy plant that delivers electricity and heat, emitting over 330,700 tons of CO2 annually from municipal solid waste. Recent tests concluded the plant is able to stop 90 percent of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
  • Norway is planning a unique $300 million worth full-scale carbon capture plant in a couple of years – i.e. by 2020. The CO2 will be shipped to North Sea for under the sea storage, or injected into oil and gas fields for boosting their production.


The waste to energy plants across the world have been initiated in varying capacities and varying degrees of success. But one cannot ignore the impact of global waste to energy market and its impending growth in the next few years. The market is expected to grow by 5.9 percent on an annual basis to reach a whopping $37 billion by 2020, from nearly $25 billion in 2013. The Waste to Energy Research and Technology Council is keen to boost growth in the market with the introduction of best waste to energy technologies, collaborating with its agencies based in Brazil, Chile, Italy, China, and India. The real-life plants and their staggering impact will help other plants to follow suit in leveraging waste to useful energy while conserving land resources worldwide.

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