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Energy from Waste Boom

There is currently an accelerated development of affordable, clean and secure Energy from Waste (EfW) facilities to help the UK meet its legally binding 2050 climate change targets.

The value of the international EfW market could reach $80 billion by 2022 – as analysts forecast accelerated growth for the waste sector over the next decade.  According to a new report from Pike Research the demand for thermal and biological waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies will reach at least $6.2bn in 2012 and grow to $29.2bn by 2022.  Contributing to this are population growth, rapid urbanization, rising levels of affluence and resource scarcity, all of which will help fuel this future demand.  Although the UK is expected to see growth within the EfW market, is it worth noting that in particular it is China which is already scaling up capacity, so expected growth will also occur in Asia Pacific in the coming years.

“With many countries facing dramatic population growth, Energy from Waste is re-establishing itself as an attractive technology option to promote low-carbon growth,” says my colleague Irfan Lohiya, Principal Consultant – Waste at Allen & York.

EfW could potentially treat 396m tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) a year, producing 429TWh of power. However, high upfront capital costs and attractive economics for land filling represent persistent barriers to more widespread adoption of EfW.  Nevertheless, recent project development, construction work and career opportunities within the EfW industry are expected to soar, reflecting the growing awareness of EfW potential.

How Many Jobs?

The Driving Green Growth April 2012 Report by SITA claims that up to 84,000 jobs within the waste industry will be created over the next decade.  At Allen & York we’re already seeing the fruition of this claim, with demands for Project Managers within Anaerobic Digestion, Business Developers and Sales Professionals at Waste Management Companies and EfW Engineers.

Given such opportunity, with the right injection of skilled waste professionals, the waste management sector could be a real driving force for the generation of renewable energy.  SITA’s report proposes that EfW could feasibly meet 15% of the UK’s electricity from renewable sources commitment and a third of the country’s residential gas demand (up to 12% of total UK demand).  This would effectively triple waste-derived renewable electricity from thermal combustion alone to 3.6 terawatt hours, powering one million homes. The research also claimed that the £25bn of investment which is needed to secure the new infrastructure will in turn enable the potential 84,000 new jobs being created in the waste sector over the next decade.

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