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Biomass & Bioenergy

Energy from Waste

Waste to energy conversion is an increasingly recognised approach to resolving two issues in one - waste management and sustainable energy.

Bioenergy CHP iconWaste represents an increasingly important fuel source. Using waste as fuel can have important environmental benefits. It can not only provide a safe and cost-effective way of waste disposal but can also help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Whilst energy can be derived from waste by burning Landfill gas, there are also alternative methods to generate energy from waste.

When waste is incinerated in large amounts, the heat energy can be recycled and used to heat factories, hospitals and other large buildings. Alternatively, the heat can be used to generate electricity. This is done by using the steam created by combustion to drive a steam turbine.

Electricity generating waste plants can typically process between 20,000 and 600,000 tonnes of waste per year, from which they can generate between 1 and 40 MW of electricity.

Waste-derived fuel can also be burnt in boilers as an alternative to coal.

Any energy that is recovered from biological waste can be regarded as renewable. It comes from plant material (either directly, or in the case of animal waste, paper or card, indirectly). As plants grow they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When biomass is used as fuel, this carbon dioxide is returned to the atmosphere, making the process carbon neutral.

Gasification

This is one of many technologies for converting waste into energy. It is a thermo-chemical process in which the biomass is heated in an oxygen deficient atmosphere to produce a low energy gas which can then be used as a fuel in a turbine or combustion engine to produce electricity.

Strict environmental standards now apply in all European countries governing the emissions from energy from waste plants, particularly of heavy metals, furans and dioxins. All energy from waste plants must now meet these standards, which can be achieved through the installation of extensive state-of-the-art gas cleaning systems.