In Amsterdam, 99 per cent of domestic and industrial waste is converted into energy that powers the city’s trams, underground trains and streetlights, as well as 75 per cent of city households. The Financial Times says that heat generated during the incineration process provides 12,000 homes with heating and hot water. The 1 million MWh of electricity the city’s waste and energy company creates from 1.3 million tonnes of waste every year is worth about €47 million.

BiofuelsDigest introduces us to the bio-based economy. The bio-based economy is a subset of the biotechnology industry.  It encompasses using industrial biotechnology to convert renewable agricultural crops or waste to new renewable consumer products –biofuels to green plastic and renewable chemical products. The heart of the biobased economy is the biorefinery – a dedicated facility for converting the sugars, oils and proteins from renewable biomass into multiple products such as biofuels, chemicals and materials such as plastics and polymers. It is modeled on the petroleum refinery, where petroleum is converted into fuels and chemicals that provide multiple product and revenue streams. The objective of a biorefinery is to develop as many product and value streams as possible from biomass.

Currently feed-in-tariffs (FIT) are used to finance and speed up the development of wind and solar technology.  But why not use them for waste-to-energy?  Orangeville tells us that this idea is now on the table in the province of Ontario, Canada.  The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and Ontario Waste Management Association has asked the province to incorporate energy-from-waste (EFW) facilities into Ontario’s Feed-in Tariff program, which is currently under review. Currently Ontario’s FIT program pays anywhere from 44.3 to 80.2 cents per kWh for solar projects, while wind turbines receive 13.5 cents. These organizations believe that the exclusion of waste to energy acts as a disincentive for new facilities.

Gas2 tells us that human waste is being converted into energy in Africa. Funded by Bill Gates, a new refining process that turns fecal waste into usable biodiesel and methane has opened its first production plant in Ghana. The fuel can then be used for transportation or industry. And Gas2 adds: “Could we all one day be driving cars powered by poo-gas? Sounds crazy, but it is pretty much the ultimate in sustainable fuels. After all, everybody poops.”

Nigeria signed a deal with Global Biofuels, a local biofuel producer, to build 15 biofuel plants in the country reports Bioenergy Insight. The project will power 15 states with 30 MW each of electricity. A pilot plant will be built in Ekiti, with construction beginning within the next few months and finishing in a year’s time. Ethanol will also be produced, using sweet sorghum as a feedstock, with 14 more plants scheduled to be built in Ondo, Osun, Kwara, Kogi, Benue, Gombe, Bauchi, Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau – if the pilot plant is a success.

Waste Management World posts that organic waste and cattle manure is providing heat and electricity at a cattle farm in Kirkton, Ontario, Canada. The system uses an anaerobic digester and biogas-powered engines to generate 250 kW of electricity and a heat output of 1.7 million Btu/hour.

Waste Management World says that every Ford Focus Electric will have 22 recycled plastic bottles.

In Pointe Claire, Quebec, Canada waste heat from a hockey rink is being used to heat a nearby swimming pool reports CTV.

Bioenergy Insight mentions that BioDiesel International (BDI) will be building a multi-feedstock biogas plant in northern France. The facility will crush, handle and convert organic waste into biogas to power an electricity and thermal energy system. Waste for the facility will be collected from food production, retailing, catering and agricultural industries and about 65,000 tonnes will be able to be processed at the plant at a time. Initially the plant will generate 2.1 MW of electricity, powering about 4,000 homes but there are plans to double its size in future.

Biomass Power and Thermal says there will be a landfill-gas-to-energy plant near Orange, California. Methane gas from the landfill will be converted to between 1.5 MW and 2 MW of electricity, enough to power between approximately 1,500 and 2,000 homes. The project is scheduled for completion later this year.

We learn from Energy Business Review that waste railroad ties will be converted to electricity at a plant near  Edmonton Alberta. A stock pile of 1/2 million railway ties already exists for use as feedstock. The plant expects to produce 20 MW of power.

The American city of Dalton, Georgia is getting a carpet waste to oil facility says The Daily Citizen. The area is home to many floor covering manufacturers and the plan is to convert carpet-derived plastic waste into high-grade synthetic crude oil.  The plant is to be completed by 2013.

Plainfield, Connecticut is to get a new biomass plant says the Norwich Bulletin.  Waste wood or construction debris will be used to generate 37.5 MW of electricity.  Construction is estimated to be completed by December 2013.

Biomass Power and Thermal tells us that the world’s largest biomass plant is about to begin operation in Tilbury, England. Later this month RWE facility will being to produce nearly 750 MW of electricity using wood pellets produced at its Waycross, Georgia facility. The facility has already begun running two out of three biomass boiler units, with the third set for operation at the end of the month.  The facility has been using coal but by 2013, RWE plans to operate exclusively on biomass. At 100% capacity, the plant will use 2.3 million metric tons (2.5 million tons) of wood pellets.

Tidewaternews tells us that American wood pellet producer, Enviva, has started shipping to European utility customers. European cold-fired electrical generating plants are beginning to substitute wood pellets for coal in order to meet European Union greenhouse gas emission standards. Much of the wood pellets are being produced in Canada and the United States. Enviva has built 2 wood pellet plants in North Carolina and is in the process of building another plant in Virgina.  It exports the pellets from its terminal in Chesapeake, Virgina.

We also learn from Biomass Power and Thermal that wood pellets will soon be exported to Europe from Eastport, Maine on the northern US east coast. Given its proximity to northern Europe, the Maine coast has immense freight advantages over many other global pellet production regions, including the Southeast U.S and Brazil.  Its freight advantages range from $4 to $7 per ton. The easternmost seaport in the US, Eastport is also the deepest natural seaport in the continental U.S.

A wood pellet plant may be opening soon in Nova Scotia, Canada according to the Chronicle Herald. Viridis Energy Inc. of Vancouver is in the process of acquiring the former wood pellet operations of Enligna Canada Inc. and expects to have them in full operation by mid-2012.  The company will export its pellets to European electric utilities. The Middle Musquodoboit plant has the capacity to produce 110,000 tonnes annually. Viridis Energy operates a pellet production plant in Kelowna, B.C.

For more information on wood pellets read our earlier post, Replacing Coal….One Pellet at a Time.


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1 Comment on Waste to Energy News

  1. Elroy Jetson says:

    While the logic of extending FITs to energy from waste projects is impeccable, given the current financial stress being experienced in almost all jurisdictions it seems improbable that politicians anywhere will welcome an opportunity to spend even more money they haven’t got, and won’t want to ask tax-payers to yield. We now have a dog’s breakfast in government initiatives, and the menu isn’t likely to change anytime soon.