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Technology transfer and spread of gasifiers and biodigesters of residual biomass to minimize greenhouse gas emissions from MSW

Biodigester_usda
This technical assistance advances the following Sustainable Development Goals: 

Affordable and clean energy

Goal7
Affordable and clean energy

Responsible consumption and production

Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production
Goal12
Responsible consumption and production

Climate action

Goal 13: Climate action
Goal13
Climate action

This Technology Transfer Advances Ecuador's

Context 

Ecuador produces about 11,114 Ton/day of municipal solid wastes (MSW) at national scale.  This amount corresponds to an average per capita production of 0,72 kg/person/day.  The data show that as average, 59 ± 14 % of the MSW are made of biodegradable residues and in some municipalities this percentage could be as high as 80%.  The anaerobic decomposition of this MSW fraction generates methane and CO2 as main residual gases which are freely released to the atmosphere.

During 2010, 160 from a total of 221 Autonomous Decentralized Governments (hereafter municipalities) disposed of its MSW at open air rubbish tips, therefore producing severe ground, water and air pollution.   The remaining 61 municipalities have sanitary landfills with different degree of technical management.  Moreover, only 94 municipalities have differentiated garbage collection systems at the source.  Inadequate waste disposal at municipalities is the origin of environment pollution especially in the form of greenhouse gas emissions, toxic leachate and soil deterioration.  This could be interpreted as a combination of lack of awareness, weak local capacities and or lack of financial schemes.

Most municipalities are unable to improve their MSW disposal systems due to high costs of implementing adequate solutions, lack of technological alternatives and limited technical advisory for implementing specific technology alternatives.  This problem hampers reuse and recycling of MSW as well as its exploitation as energy source and/or fertilizer. Additionally, a gap between the sources and users of technology for MSW treatment has been identified, which is related with funding and technology transfer mechanisms. It is intended with this measure to take advantage and to enhance locally-developed technology with potential to contribute to an environmental problem, identifying sound technology transfer mechanisms and possible funding schemes to pave the way for an efficient diffusion and deployment of these technologies.

    Requested CTCN Response

    INER has developed local technology of gasifiers and biodigesters suitable for the characteristics of local MSW with the potential to make use of it with energy purposes while reducing the amount of wastes that is disposed into landfills or rubbish tips at the same time.  These technologies could have an important impact on solving the MSW problem described above and also on the promotion of locally developed technology use. The proposal considers the elements described below: 

    • Identification and analysis of technical and administrative aspects. This activity is oriented to identify the administrative and technical characteristics of the MSW management that are required for a prompt implementation of demonstrative pre-commercial pilot plants. According to the characteristics, needs and capabilities of each possible implementation site, it will be defined the correct technology (gasifiers and/or biodigesters).
    • Development of enabling mechanisms. This activity could be described as a combination of three sub activities:
      • The first one is focused on the identification and operation of technology transfer mechanisms. This stage implies the recognition of the enabling framework and barriers for technology transfer to the municipalities, therefore, new or improved mechanisms from the source (INER, who has developed local gasifier and biodigester technologies) to the users should be proposed.
      • The second sub activity comprises the identification of financial mechanisms for technology adoption and sustainable operation due to the fact high costs are identified as one of the most important barriers for technology adoption and improvement of MSW treatment systems. Consequently, one important action within this proposal is to identify the possible range of financial mechanisms and the design of innovative mechanisms that permit municipalities match its own economic resources with other sources of monetary flows. Within this activity, other relevant national and/or international actors, as well, as financial sources should be identified. Strategies for converting a potential waste-to-energy project implementation into a continuous waste management process will also be evaluated.
      • Finally, the third sub activity will consider the implementation of demonstration plants that will show the technical advantages and benefits of different waste management alternatives that are applicable to the local characteristics. This action will pave the way for a proper and coherent diffusion and technology transfer process and also will solve specific waste management problems by applying the technology developed by INER.
    • Dissemination and scaling-up strategy.  This activity could also be split into two sub activities called energy management model and market development for technology diffusion.
      • Within the energy management model, the most suitable and economic forms of energy use from biodigesters and gasifiers will be identified according to the characteristics of municipalities. The types of energy vectors from these technologies are biogas, syngas, liquid fuels or electricity; therefore, several different alternatives of energy usage will be analyzed taking into account the socio-economic aspects of each municipality. Sustainability strategies previously identified will be analyzed into the management model proposal.
      • Market development and technology diffusion consists of developing several information mechanisms, which highlight the features, benefits and economic viability of the new technology. Workshops and visits will be conducted with focus on users, industrial units, policy makers and other stakeholders. As a part of the diffusion strategies, field visits will be organized to other users and stakeholders in order to show benefits of technology under operation. Field visits will encourage and enable the stakeholders to actively get involve in promotion measures for wide dissemination of the technology.
    • Building local capabilities. Technical and administrative staff in charge of MSW management should enhance their knowledge, awareness and technical capabilities in order to implement adequate MSW treatment systems, as well as, gaining insight into the possibilities of using MSW as energy and other valuable materials source.

    It is important to promote locally-developed technology (e.g. gasifier local technology developed by INER) since they are adapted to the particular characteristics of MSW. This will allow that municipalities generate proper internal processes for adopting and implementing new suitable technologies and treatment alternatives by their own initiative.  Some examples of these processes could be: garbage sorting at the source, diffusion campaigns and enhancement of productive entrepreneurship for energy usage and/or utilization of residual fertilizers. These alternatives will be also evaluated as technology transfer options.

    Relevant Technologies and Approaches

    Expected benefits

    This measure seeks to implement a bridge between demand and supply of technology for MSW management.  Normally these technologies are too expensive or too sophisticated to be operated for the municipalities.  Locally developed technologies have the potential to reduce costs of implementation and operation.

    Additionally, this measure will contribute to the following benefits:

    • Minimizing the amount of MSW that are disposed of in open air garbage tips or sanitary landfills.
    • Minimizing the emission of greenhouse gases that are produced during the biodegradable fraction decomposition of MSW.  These gases are freely released to the atmosphere.
    • Generating and strengthening local capacities at municipality level for technical treatment of MSW and hence, reducing diseases, contamination and GHG emissions.
    • Contribute to the technology diffusion and transfer by putting attention on adequate, locally developed technologies for MSW treatment.
    • Contribute to the use of MSW as a source for recycling, reusing, energy generation or fertilizers production. This could help to identify and implement productive entrepreneurships at local level.
    • Give support to the municipalities to identify and apply to financial mechanisms for technology adoption and implementation. 
    • Potential additional aspects:
      • Creation of proper job opportunities specially for poor people that are nowadays involved in an informal and unsecure way in the MSW treatment.
      • Reduction of potential diseases for the population and other problems associated with wildlife and nature due to improved waste management and reduced residues quantities.

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