Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Waste to Energy - A responsible solution for lower energy costs

Typical Municipal Waste site

The recent mine disaster in Turkey, which claimed more than 300 lives has sparked wider debates and discussions over the use of fossil fuels and Turkey's dependency on foreign energy. Turkey has an obligation to pursue clean energy, despite the fact that the government has not pursued a transition to renewable energy sources, as some developed countries have. Whilst some limited progress has been made in the development of renewable fuel sources, in the form of Wind and Solar power farms, there seems to be no apparent government drive to pursue renewable energy opportunities although in fact, Turkey is sitting on vast quantities of potential energy resources in the form of Municipal Waste.

This column has avidly advocated Renewable Energy farming for a number of years now, with numerous articles published on the theme. This particular piece explains how converting municipal waste to energy provides not only a clean energy solution, but also significant employment opportunities whilst Turkey could actually become energy-self sufficient by way of harnessing a variety of renewable energy sources.

As with every country in the world, Turkey retains countless billions of tonnes of municipal waste. Istanbul itself produces some 50,000 tonnes of this material on a daily basis, the equivalent of 18.24 million tonnes per annum. Scaled up across the whole country, the totals are close to being incalculable. In Turkish Cyprus and at long last, the government there have finally woken up to the need to deal with their waste problem and they already have a W2E plant coming online shortly, this being based on anaerobic digestion. There is tender out now, for a Municipal Waste to Energy plant and a waste feed of some 287,000 Tonnes is estimated to be available for processing. A significant contribution to the energy requirements of the TRNC would be made from this source and when combined with other renewable sources, plus HEP coming in from Turkey with the water pipeline, an energy surplus is a strong possibility.

One solution could be in the form of a Waste to Energy Pyrolysis (gasifier) process which is manufactured by a company called Chamco Inc in the USA: This involves the conversion of the waste feed into briquettes which are then fed into a gasifier which in turn creates a product called SYNGAS and it is this which ultimately produces the electricity. This Waste to Energy plant comes in a modular form which starts at a 40 Tonnes Per day, I Megawatt unit, but it can be constructed to process up 1000 metric tonnes of Municipal Waste per day, which in turn converts to 25 MWH of energy daily. The approximate project cost for a 1000 TPD /25 MWH plant would be around $102.5M, however based upon a feed-in tariff of $0.30 per KW (Kilowatt), this equates when scaled up on an annualised basis to $2.74 Million. Add to this a further revenue potential of approximately half a million dollars a year by way of charges made to waste delivery companies in the form of a ‘gate fee’.

Waste Tyres blighting the landscape

There are additional opportunities to maximise revenue too, for if you have a Waste to Energy production plant based on a landfill site, there is nothing to stop you in theory at least, of having solar array installations and possibly wind turbine towers too, depending upon the location. This would then give rise to three energy source potentials from renewable resources, a form of ‘mixed crop energy farming’, something that has already been suggested by this column sometime ago. Rolled out country-wide in the case of Turkey, and in a very narrow time frame, these energy farms would not only self-finance but would provide employment for up to 150 people per site and with a shift-system in place, could operate 24/7 and 300 days a year allowing for maintenance.

The entire W2E process can earn Carbon Credits if the plant owner subjects the project to UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) evaluation. Each qualifying process has the following GHG (greenhouse gases) reductions:

1. Waste Processing: Locks into the briquettes any potential GHG that could be released by any other waste oxidation process such as burning or land-filling.

2. Gasification: Transforms briquettes and other Bio-masses fuels to be transformed into a gas which is retained for further processing. This is an important source of additional income since the operation of the plant will earn carbon credits on a yearly basis.

Reinstated Landfill site - A greener future for our Great Grandchildren to enjoy

The above examples show clearly that a country of the size and population as Turkey can benefit enormously by tapping into resources the country already possesses in vast quantities. The goal of becoming energy self-reliant will be materially augmented by adopting Energy Farming techniques and is highly attainable in a realistic time frame.

For more information on Waste to Energy process, including Project Financing,  contact Ged Sloan at gerald@solarpanels4u.com

Chris Green for Beşparmak Media Services