WTE – Waste to Energy, Will this help India, Swach Bharath campaign?

common-sourcesYesterday I came across an article in a magazine on making Waste to energy in India, and when I went through the details it says that Waste to Energy can help India deal with not only the increasing garbage disposal problem, but also address health and economic issues and that too with the private participation. I wondered how this can be viable as it costs three times the power produced from a thermal power plant. Yes, power from waste technology is not cheap. The specialized handling that waste requires, coupled with the need of extensive emission control systems to prevent atmospheric pollution, makes these plants much more expensive to build than any others and also expensive to operate where the majority of waste collection in India (MSW) is through the sweepers who are generally untrained working for municipalities who even collect soil and mud along with waste that makes even difficult and costlier for the process. If these plants had to survive on the revenue from power generation alone, they would never be built. Fortunately they have the other source of income.

Since the waste has to be disposed of in regulated manner, these operators can charge fee. Which in other sense is called tipping fee, which can be the major source of income. Any additional income from power generation will benefit the economics of plant and the waste collection is also to be needed to be handed over to these parties, where this entire waste management system can be handled as a profitable venture by private sector or NGOs.

If the right technology is empowered with optimal processes and all components of waste are used to derive value, WTE could be a profitable business accompanied with govt. incentives.

Where most of the wastes that are generated in India today, find their ways into land and water bodies without proper treatment, causing severe water and air pollution, but through this WTE the rest remaining ash which constitutes around 10% can again be used in laying of roads or manufacturing cement.

Municipal-Industrial-Agricultural wastes can be transformed into Solid fuels, Syngas, Bioethanol, Fertilizer and Power.

Where the generated power can be sold to Industries in those areas at assigned industrial tariffs which could nearly match the costs of WTE power generation,  apart from tipping fee.

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