Technological Advances in WTE – The Way Forward
- Potential: India has a significant potential for waste-to-energy (WTE) generation, with an estimated 1700 MW of capacity from urban waste and 1300 MW from industrial waste. This is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of about 1.5 million households.
- Current: As of 2023, there are 16 WTE plants operational in India, with a combined capacity of 180 MW. This is only a small fraction of the country’s potential, but there is growing momentum for WTE development.
- Future: The Indian government has set a target of generating 1000 MW of power from WTE by 2030. This is an ambitious target, but it is achievable with the right policies and investments.
- Low calorific value of waste: Indian waste has a low calorific value, which makes it difficult to generate energy efficiently. The average calorific value of MSW in India is about 1,500 kcal/kg, which is significantly lower than the calorific value of waste in developed countries.
- Lack of segregation: Waste is often not segregated in India, which makes it difficult to process and generate energy from it. Segregation is important because it allows for the separation of different types of waste, which can then be processed more efficiently.
- High cost of WTE plants: WTE plants are relatively expensive to build and operate, which makes them less attractive than other waste management options. The cost of building a 10 MW WTE plant in India is typically about INR 100 crore (USD 13 million), and the cost of operating a WTE plant is about INR 5 crore (USD 625,000) per year.
- Growing demand for energy: India’s demand for energy is growing rapidly, which creates an opportunity for WTE to provide a clean and sustainable source of energy. The country’s energy demand is expected to grow by about 6% per year over the next decade, and WTE could play a significant role in meeting this demand.
- Government support: The Indian government is providing financial and policy support for WTE development, which is helping to overcome some of the challenges. The government has provided subsidies for WTE plants, and it has also set up a number of policies to promote WTE development.
- Technological advances: Technological advances are making it more efficient and cost-effective to generate energy from waste, which is making WTE a more attractive option. For example, new technologies are being developed to improve the efficiency of WTE plants, and new methods are being developed to segregate waste more effectively.
The progress of WTE in India is kicking up, with government support and technological advances, WTE could play a significant role in India’s energy future.