Waste to Energy Industry: Current Business Outlook

Waste to Energy Industry: Current Business Outlook

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Welcome to the Sustainability Nuggets Podcast. I am Rarosue Amaraibi, and I am Tosin Folorunso. On this podcast we learn about sustainability  by discussing various related topics while   focusing on three pillars; the economy,  the society, and the environment.   Hi everyone, hello. Welcome to another episode  of the waste series on the sustainability nuggets   podcast. In this series we have been talking about  business opportunities in the waste management  

industry and one major area for business  opportunities in this industry is waste to energy   processes. Rarosue will lead this discussion  today because she is well versed in this topic   thank you Tosin. So on this episode guys we'll be  discussing what exactly the waste energy means um   the global market size, why it's important in our  world today, the different types of waste energy   processes available um the favorable government  policies supporting this process and um existing   waste energy companies around the world. We will  also be touching on opportunities available in the   waste energy industry yeah so can you define what  waste to energy is about yeah so waste energy is   simply a process of energy recovery or you can see  it as a technique of generating energy in the form   of heat or um electricity and even gaseous and  liquid fuels from the primary treatment of waste.   In our first episode on this waste series which  was building a million dollar business from Waste   Management we mentioned that the global Waste  Management Market is currently valued at 1.6   trillion dollars as of 2020. Remember? Let that  sink in again. That’s a lot. Yeah, so now coming  

to the waste energy Market um the waste energy  Market was valued at 35 billion dollars as of   um 2019 and it's projected to reach about  52 billion dollars by 2028 growing at an   annual growth rate of 5.2 percent throughout  the forecast period of 2020 through 2030.   so do you know why it's growing up such a rate  yeah yes there are several reasons and um I'm   just going to highlight some of these reasons so  one major one is the fact that there's an increase   in domestic and Industrial uh waste disposal  globally right um and with this increase there's   also a decrease in landfill capacities which is  also leading to an increase in tipping fees. So   it's it's more expensive for you to dispose your  waste into landfill right um and like if you look   at the US for example U.S has witnessed a decline  in its number of landfills over the past few years   and is expected to emerge as one of the larger  like the largest waste generating country so   yeah okay so that means like the U.S is expected  to generate more waste but we don't have space we   don't have no spaces to actually keep dumping that  waste in exactly exactly and another reason is the   fact that there's growing energy demands from the  NG sector so can you explain what the NG sector is   so by energy sector we're talking about like  the transportation industrial commercial   and residential sectors because these are the  primary consumers of energy mainly in the form of   electricity right okay and so with this growing  demand like green waste disposal green energy   demand there's also a rise in the environmental  concerns regarding increase in carbon emissions   from the usage of conventional fuels that's  fossil fuels and with this concern it has   led to more countries opting for cleaner and  more efficient sources of power generation   um so waste energy as a major that's one of  the viable solutions for countries to to meet   their carbon reduction targets and be able  to switch to um cleaner Energy Technologies   um so another reason is the fact that there's  really technological advancement in energy   recovery um to improve the output efficiency  of waste to energy plants with all of these   reasons combined um it has led to the creation of  favorable regulatory policies encouraging proper   waste disposal combined with energy production and  so because there are favorable policies from the   government and their their Major Market players  like companies that actually converting these   waste into energy it is actually strengthening um  the growth of this industry okay so that's really   the reason for the The increased growth yeah so  can you give exact examples of those favorable   government policies? yeah so there are several  government policies across different regions   implementing these Technologies but like the  major regions implementing Technologies are   in North America, the Asia Pacific and Europe.  So let's come to North America first um in the  

United States um there are several federal  laws and regulations that govern renewable   energy grid interconnection so um some of these  laws are the Federal Power Act and this Act gives   Federal authority over electric utilities. We  have the public utility regulatory Policy Act   um that mandates utilities to buy electricity from  qualifying facilities so it's thereby introducing   competitions into wholesale power markets right  and the energy Policy Act enables electricity   um generators to participate in wholesale  power Market free from Security and Exchange   Commission supervise um supervision um the public  utility regulatory Policy Act also offers the way   for small non-utility generators to enter the  market including renewable energy Developers.   So apart from this was all in the United  States but in Canada - Canada has also   set a target of increasing the share of zero  emitting sources to about 90 percent by 2030.  

right so this this is actually pushing for cleaner  sources of energy to enter into the market does   that mean so you said that um the public utility  regulatory policy at mandated teachers to buy   electricity from qualifying facilities so do  you mean that the waste to energy plant would   be a part of qualifying facilities yes because um  these are low carbon emitting sources right and   they're mandating these utility companies  to actually purchase purchase power from   from low carbon emitting um generators so yeah  okay that that act actually makes it possible for   the waste to energy generators to actually  sell their energy to the grid in order to   um be part of the um grid mix the energy grid  mix okay in a region yeah okay. In Europe when   you come to Europe um in Europe there are direct  subsidies carbon tax and landfill taxes uh to   waste energy plants and this is likely um going to  help drive the regional market over the forecast   period right um so if if I should explain that  like since there's carbon tax - it becomes more   expensive to use fossil fuels, landfill taxes  - becomes expensive to just throw your um waste   into the landfill so it this policy is making it  um favorable for businesses and even individuals   to send their waste to waste-to-energy plants yeah  um. In the Asia Pacific region there is increased   government funding for municipal Solid Waste  Management along with growing awareness regarding   the waste energy plants across various economies  such as India, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand   and this is bound to drive the regional market  growth. In India specifically the government has   undertaken various initiatives for managing  Urban and Industrial Waste as it has faced   a large number of public health incidents  associated with soil and water pollution   so now we know why this industry is growing. All  because of favorable um government policies which   is also an effect of the fact that we are  running out of space for landfills and you   know it's interesting how you brought up the case  with India where um there's a Public Health crisis   because of mismanaged waste um but what so for  this industry what are the benefits of adopting   waste to energy processes because there are  definitely other ways of Waste Management right   but what benefits exist with converting waste to  energy yeah so I'm going to go according to the   report from the Environmental Protection Agency so  the United States Environmental Protection Agency   um actually reported that there's a one-ton  reduction in greenhouse gas emission and for   every ton of solid waste processed in waste to  energy facilities. So what this means basically   is the fact that waste to energy plants reduces  a significant amount of harmful emissions going   to several factors even including recovery  of metals for recycling because and in waste   energy plant they actually do recover metals um  so it's it's also like when you generate energy   from waste, it offsets the carbon dioxide from  fossil fuel power generation so when you are using   the energy or the electricity that generated from  waste you're not using the electricity from fossil   fuel and that's offsetting that um carbon emission  and so there's also the abundance of methane from   landfills because you're diverting your waste from  landfills you're not sending them to landfills you   know methane is not being generated there instead  is in the waste energy plant where it's captured   and used for energy generation and so like I  said before we are also still running out of   space from landfill so it is but that you find  a way to divert that waste to somewhere it can   be useful and waste energy process is really  a reliable Waste Management solution yeah.  

That's awesome I'm really um I think I really  like the part where we are not we are addressing   the problem with dumping waste in the landfill. We  can't keep creating more space for landfills when   we can actually you know find better Solutions  one of which is the ways to energy process so can   you tell us more about this process or processes  what are they yeah yeah on the basis of Technology   which is like let me take their um like the global  waste energy Market waste energy Market is divided   into the Thermal and the Biochemical technology.  There's also a sector called the Others but   these are the two main ones - thermal and  biochemical. Thermal technology is actually the   larger segment in the whole waste to energy market  and it really involves recycling energy from   Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) at high temperature so  it includes different processes such as combustion   which is also known as incineration. There's  gasification and pyrolysis. So these are the  

three major types of thermal technology for  the waste to energy process. And the major   difference between this type um the three types  of Technologies I just called is the amount of   oxygen that supplied and the temperature of the  process so due to like the difference in oxygen   and temperature levels it leads to different  end products so in some it can just lead to   CO2 and Water by the other like based  on the temperature it can produce some   intermediate and useful products so in terms  of gaseous or liquid combustible products um   so the thermal technology like the thermal  segment of this waste energy Market occupied   um the largest revenue share of 82.4  percent in 2019 and incineration was the major contributor to this Revenue  growth. So I can just go like just highlight   what incineration is, gasification  means and uh yeah pyrolysis yeah so   um incineration is really a method of waste  disposal that involves the combustion of waste   so when I talk about combustion of waste you're  literally just burning the waste. There is oxygen   involved so you can. Incineration is a waste  waste management method on its own where you burn  

um always but now you can um recover energy from  that process if you use a proper incinerator where   it burns the waste and it heats water that  turns into steam and drives a generator to   um drives a turbine to produce electricity so.  This is different from like you know there's open   air burning it's also I think it's also called  incineration where you're just burning but you're   not recovering anything across the process.  Yes and that's even the open air burning is is   an hazard to the environment right yeah right so  but incineration it's better to take incineration   with energy recovery right because that you're not  just um doing it in an open-air situation it's in   a confined space it's in a confined space is it is  in an incinerator yeah that has um energy recovery   attached to it that's the the steam component  the turbine component and like a generator that   generates electricity and in in proper incinerator  plants there's also like emissions control so the   emissions that comes from the burning doesn't just  go into the atmosphere. It is a closed system so   it goes into the emission control where  um effluents are adsorbed and just clean   um gas is released afterwards yeah so that's  that's Incineration - basically combustion.  

When we look at gasification, gasification  is a technological process that can convert   any carbon-based, raw materials but in this sense  we're looking at waste biomass right gasification   is also used for for coal but we’re concentrating  on waste and waste biomass here so it converts   um the carbon-based raw materials into um fuel  gas and it's usually known as SYNGAS. Syngas is   CO2 and hydrogen yeah its synthesis gas but it  contains Co and hydrogen which can be used for   either electricity generation or it can be used  to produce liquid fuels. It's a building block for   energy like Energy Products right yeah that's what  what happens there so this gasification it occurs   like um in with limited oxygen and water, unlike  incineration where there's like excess oxygen   this like it's like a controlled process where  um they feed it um oxygen and steam to generate   the products they want okay another major  difference from incineration apart from   the lesser of oxygen used it's does it go  through higher temperature and pressure than   incineration? Yes it happens in a unit known as  the gasifier and it's okay it occurs at a certain   high temperature and high pressure environment. So  what about pyrolysis? So for pyrolysis It's also  

a thermal treatment right um but with pyrolysis  - it is actually biomass pyrolysis and plastic   pyrolysis. So plastic can actually go through  pyrolysis, biomass can go through pyrolysis.   The main difference between pyrolysis and  gasification is that pyrolysis occurs in   an innate environment so um oxygen is not allowed  into that environment, into the pyrolysis chamber   okay .So it occurs in an inert environment at  high temperature and pressure. So at the end   of the day in pyrolysis you you get um a liquid  product uh like you get a like gaseous products   that can be condensed into liquid products  while some gasses remain in gas from so   um but the main product here is the  pyrolysis oil also known as the bio oil.  

On the on the channel and the podcast  previously I've made the video that demonstrated   um conversion of plastic to oil through pyrolysis  and I also interviewed CEO of NAKA Industries   which is a company that converts and plastic  to oil using paralysis so if you're interested   you can always check out those episodes  yeah. So the methods we have discussed   so far are just for Thermal Technologies. Am  I right? yeah so what's the other technology   in the waste- to energy process yeah so the  other the other technologies the biological   technology and there are different ways in which  waste can be converted into energy through this   technology. So there is the landfill gas recovery  which just involves capturing landfill gas from   landfills right and landfill gas is a product of  anaerobic decomposition of the organic components   in Municipal Solid Waste disposed in landfills so  this in in the industry this like like they they   categorize this as a sector on it’s own different  from anaerobic digestion but honestly landfill gas   is is literally just biogas from landfill so it's  actually um comes from the anaerobic decomposition   in landfill but there's also like it's also  segmented like another segment is known as   the anaerobic digestion segment right because in  the anaerobic digestion segment they actually use   digesters. So they build digesters for wastewater  treatment plants and provide an anaerobic   environment for waste to convert it to biogas,  so anaerobic just means without oxygen. oxygen  

right. So the difference between landfill recovery  and the anaerobic digestion..Well I wouldn't say   the difference I think yeah the difference would  be the location so like yes the waste is already   in the landfill and then you're just capturing the  gas so yeah we talked about how methane how when   um you know waste is dumped into landfill  over time it emits methane right So landfill   gas recovery is just like capturing that  methane instead of allowing it to escape into   the atmosphere but for anaerobic digestion  like they actually build plants that have   anaerobic digesters right so they have to  design different design anaerobic digesters   and design the process of how to feed   the digester system, how to collect the gas from  it and some in some anaerobic digestion system   also convert their waste product or the effluents  to fertilizers okay so there's a whole system so   um for the anaerobic digestion so in the anaerobic  digestion sector they can have specific waste   streams so they can convert food waste to biogas  or they can convert animal droppings to biogas or   um get biosolid from wastewater treatment  plants to biogas so that's so that's why it's   into two - landfill gas recovery and anaerobic  digestion right. So fermentation is also another   um process that falls on that biological uh  technology and this a metabolic process that   produces chemical changes in organic substrates  through the action of enzymes. So to understand it   better from fermentation is where you get ethanol  hydrogen gas and you can also get more enzymes for   it so just think about how alcohol is actually  manufactured right so yeah. you have to ferment  

um carbohydrates to get um alcohol. Ethanol  is an alcohol but it's a chemical based   um alcohol um so yeah that's where the  fermentation comes in and so in the in   this waste consent content we'll be looking at  fermentation of waste biomass we are not just   um and we are not converting to alcohol if we  are converting to fuel for energy right yeah it   an alcohol but fuel grade alcohol no I mean like  alcohol that we drink.yeah yeah yeah we're not   converting to food grade alcohol we're converting  to fuel grade or energy grade alcohol yeah   so the the last technology is really like a  combination of some of Technologies and it's   known as mechanical biological treatment um so  that's the MBT system so this system is a type   of waste processing facility that combines  a sorting facility with a form of biological   treatment such as composting or anaerobic  digestion so when if a company adopts this this   um method right they collect they just collect  a mixed stream of waste and other facility it   goes through sorting where they are picking up  Metals picking up recyclables and just separating   um the organic components that will probably get  um like if they can actually bring out organic   components maybe it can go to composting or  it can go to anaerobic digestion while some   others - if it still mixed, it goes into  incineration so is it a just a facility   that combines everything so you don't need to  physically sort everything. In their process   um it sorts and just puts everything in their  right place basically so you are pre-treating   the waste like you are should I say so in that  same facility like you are pre-sorting and then   um yeah you are pre-sorting the waste first.  You collect household waste, you sort it and  

then it goes into like what depending on what  kind of organic waste. Yeah but because they   combined it it's called a system so they are  not doing it separately. It is already in the   old system so you want to think about it  like maybe Waste Management truck brings   mix sorts of waste and just put it in this in  this MBT system and there's like a conveyor   belt with magnets or yeah like and the density  separator or something that separates Metals   and separates the ones that will float or fall  and like the end stream based on what they have   attached to it right can be an anaerobic  digestion and digester for just Organics yeah okay or composting so this because it's MBT  it has to be about like combined with a biological   um stuff that is either composting or  anaerobic but the most common ones are   just combined with incineration so when they  when they sort out whatever they can sort out,   they just burn the rest yeah okay okay okay so  the non-organic components are burnt are those   the ones that are burnt? No I'm saying like in  the regular situation the more popular situation   that's something stuff is there but they don't  see anything yeah they don't sort it to the level   where they just bring up biological parts right  okay yeah so but in the MBT they have to bring   out the organic parts to put it in a biological  treatment so their sorting has to be detailed   whatever system they have has to be detailed  enough to to bring out the biological part so   earlier you had mentioned that of the two types of  um waste to energy technologies that we have the   thermal process is the most popular right and  they said incineration like out of so we have   only thermal processes we have incineration we  have gasification and pyrolysis and incineration   is still the most popular and um on that and  so some examples of waste to energy companies   that mostly practice incineration include Waste  Management, Anaergia, Covanta and Covanta energy   corporation. So are there other examples of  companies that do something else apart from   the thermal process yeah like most of also there  are a lot of companies but most of them actually   do the incineration like they just incinerate  and convert to electricity some of them is   like a combination of processes for example The  Waste Management you talked about also produce   renewable natural gas like the capture landfill  gas and convert it into renewable natural gas. Anaergia, beyond the clean energy they are  providing they also like create fertilizers   from it and recycled water so like What I’m  trying to say is that they do multiple things   most of the time but incineration is usually  like just like the the major easiest part yeah   um so um it's difficult to find like other  companies doing like the other stuff. There are   companies but they are not like really popular  but one I've seen is the Blue Fire Renewables   um and that that company actually um  carry out fermentation. So they use  

a they have a patent on concentrated acid  hydrolysis technology where they convert   um cellulosic waste materials - cellulosic  waste material is also known as green waste   materials - to ethanol so that falls under  fermentation like in the biological part   um I talked about NAKA Industries previously  um those ones carry out pyrolysis or plastic   pyrolysis um I found a company called Splainex  ecosystems but what they do is actually   um design the pyrolysis plant so you can buy  the pyrolysis plant from them and then operate   um your like operate the the system of  converting either plastic or biomass into oil   yeah so but there are a lot and we cannot talk  about all of them here. We can even talk about   home biogas that convert waste to biogas. There  are a lot of them yeah. So it looks like there's   still this sector is growing definitely and  there is room for opportunity or a chance for   you know people to still come into the sector  and make great businesses out of it so what   are the current opportunities available  and are there certain challenges that is   impeding the growth of this other sectors  like the biological sectors for example.   So let's start with the opportunities, if you're  looking at the opportunities you want to look   at the whole supply chain, supply chain like  looking at the different sections yeah needed   into waste energy process right um before you  can convert waste to energy - be it thermal or   biological you need to design the technology  for it so that's a market space on its   own - designing the incinerators, the gasifiers,  the pyrolysis chambers, the anaerobic digesters,   the fermentation tanks- that's a sector on its  own um if you're really technical if you're   into engineering designs that's some something  you can look at to see if you can help design   plants for different regions right yeah so  that's that's one opportunity then another   opportunity is in the collection and the sorting  of waste. One reason why incineration is really  

very popular is the fact that it can just accept  mixed mixed waste right and so they don't need   to be pre-treating and sorting they can just  throw it into the into the incinerator chamber   um and so that's like something impeding the  other other types of Technology because they need   um specific waste streams. For example and in  an anaerobic digester, you cannot put mixed   waste into to it would destroy the um biological  process right. So in order for anaerobic digestion   to grow you really need um sorting of the waste to  make sure that only pure streams are entering so   um even with the pyrolysis and the gasifiers  they need specific waste streams so there's   really need and there's like a lot of  opportunity in that collection and sorting   um side of things especially for companies that  do not have the MBT like we talked about like   yeah all of the machineries. They need um that  intermediate help to sort waste and give them   pure waste streams so that's an opportunity that  people can dive into and I've seen this a lot in   Plastics like uh different people like different  companies that that work on plastic waste most   of them actually just solve the problem of  collecting and sorting before they give it   to to the recycling company so you can see that in  every diff every part of waste not just plastic.   You can become a collection and sorting company  for biomass, you can do that for metal I know   um and so the last opportunity I'll say is the  operation of the technology itself. Yes we see   that it's growing but the regions that we  talked about is really just North America   um Asia Pacific and Europe uh yeah we have  other parts of the world that really need   this technology so you can look at what is being  done in these areas and implement it in your own   um region but even in this region that has  been implemented the more is needed because   um waste that's been generated only a very few  percent is being converted into energy so why   is that so there's a need for expansion  of this industry so we need more people   actually carrying out the operations of this  technology so the um I think for Regions like   Africa there's where the waste management  sector is relatively still growing like there's   um should I say there's little in most in  some countries there's little or no Waste   Management Systems in existence so collection  and sorting of wastes it's time consuming   definitely it's labor intensive but um if if we  can combine the Technologies aspect like you're   actually automating the process of sorting the  waste then it'd be easy to set up this like   um waste to energy plant because you already have  like you have a you have the middle um man man   yeah you have the middleman that will be doing the  collection and sorting and then the Technologies   are being made available definitely so yeah uh  in order not to extend this episode we're going   to end here there are a lot of things to go deep  into - the different Industries, what's actually   going on in those Industries - so but like in  future episodes we'll be diving into the specific   waste energy Industries like the anaerobic  digestion industry the pyrolysis industry,   incineration and gasification to really understand  their successes and their shortcomings. We had  

mentioned when we started this waste series that  this series is going to be a long series but um   we hope that you are actually gaining and learning  something from it so um we hope you stay with us   till the end of this series and maybe you would  have started a business so you would be I guess   inspired to study business yeah definitely so yeah  stay tuned And subscribe to our podcast bye bye Thanks so much for listening to the  Sustainability Nuggets podcast. I am   Rarosue Amaraibi and I am Tosin  Folorunso. If you enjoyed this   podcast please leave a rating and review  on wherever you listen to your podcast.   You can also show your support by signing up  for a small donation to help sustain future   episodes. You can find all relevant links in  the description see you in our next episode.

2022-09-09 17:33

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