In this article Mr Atem S. Ramsundersingh, CEO WEnergy Global Pte Ltd, explains what Waste-to-Energy (WtE) is, how it can be realised and why especially in Asia using biomass to produce electricity offers an alternative with many benefits.
In Asian countries, humans produce on average between 0.4 and 1.62 kilograms of waste per day. The proportion of biodegradable waste amounts to between 42 and 80 percent. In the lower- to middle-income economies, this proportion is about 65 to 80 percent, while in the higher-income countries of Asia, this proportion is around 45 percent. In towns and cities across Asia, decision-makers continue to choose the shortsighted option of dumping solid waste in landfills. That mindset has to change, and this can only happen through exposure to success stories like Singapore’s and by giving those decision-makers the capacity to take action. Cities like, Surabaya, are increasingly enhancing their solid waste management and are looking for an “end of the pipeline” solution, meaning WtE systems, like that in Singapore.
Countries such as China, India, the Philippines and Thailand are embarking on WtE projects. In Hong Kong, decision-makers are being confronted with the limits of dumping solid waste in landfills – the region’s solid waste production is more than 30 percent higher than that of Seoul and Taipei – and authorities have allocated US$4 billion to deal with solid waste production over the next seven years. Part of this plan is a project to build a large WtE incineration plant. China is also preparing for a large increase in WtE projects, aiming to convert 30 percent of its municipal waste into energy by 2030.