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Energy supply from waste

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Waste-to-energy (WtE) or energy-from-waste (EfW) is the process of generating energy in the form of electricity and/or heat from the primary treatment of waste.

The most commonly used conversion methods – combustion of waste to produce heat or electricity; anaerobic digestion to produce methane for heat or power production etc. all are well-established and commercial technologies. A further set of conversion processes – for example, the production of liquid fuels from cellulosic materials by biological or thermochemical conversion processes, such as pyrolysis – are at earlier stages of commercialisation or still under development. In 2015, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) accounted for 18% of biomass sources for heat production and 8% of biomass sources for electricity production globally (including the renewable portion only). Turning waste into energy offers a more sustainable and less GHG emitting energy source compared to for example fossil fuels. However, it should be noted that technologies such as waste incineration are not without environmental impacts and from the perspective of the waste hiearchy it is considered more resource efficient to reuse or recycle waste where possible.

Relevant CTCN Technical Assistance

Relevant Technology Needs Assessment

For more relevant TNA's please see TNA Database


    Well-established commercial technologies

    • Combustion of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) for district heating, electricity and/or cooling.
    • Gasification of MSW
    • Methane capture at landfills for electricity and heat
    • Landfill composting
    • Anaerobic digestion: Biogas from waste
    • Pelletizing: for example compressing residual waste from forest industry, agriculture, sawmills, furniture companies etc. into pellets used as biofuel

    Earlier stages of commercialisation

    • Pyrolysis (of e.g. agricultural waste such as rice husks, corn cobs, coconut husks etc.)  
    • Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT): A mechanical biological treatment 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. It can also be used to extract recyclable materials and produce fuel for industrial thermal applications. MBTplants are designed to process mixed household waste as well as commercial and industrial wastes.
    • Biorefinery
    • MSW and agricultural waste for biofuel and jet fuel production 

    Product examples

    [Disclaimer: Products listed here are provided by Climate Technology Network members and represent examples of products available within this technology field. The CTCN does not take responsibility for this product information and cannot guarantee its suitability in specific contexts or regions.]

    • Biodigesters [East Africa Climate Innovation Network (EACIN)]: This is a biodigester with the effect of pre-treatment and anaerobic co-digestion of water hyacinth on biogas. it Increases the surface area of methanogane bacteria on biogas production
    • Biodigesters [East Africa Climate Innovation Network (EACIN)]: A metal digestor which produces biogas equivalent to a 3kg Lpq cylinder. It uses kitchen waste as a source of raw material
    • Forecasting landfill gas potential [Ministry of Economy, Israel]
    • (KOTEC10) System for organic waste reduction and energy recovery [Korea Technology Finance Corporation, Korea]: This technology has been developed to reduce the organic wastes and convert them to energy.
    • Solid Waste Treatment and Recycling [UniVerve Power Ltd., Israel]: A waste recycling facility generally composed of 3 main modules: (a) sorting and separation (system whenever separation at source is not implemented or the MSW not pre-sorted; (b Dry fermentation anaerobic digestion module the novel technology offering high biogas yield minimal ecological footprint and minimal total cost of ownership; (c) CHP unit for biogas to electricity conversion.
    • Substitute raw material processing technology (Sewage sludge) [Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan]
    • Waste to Energy Conversion [Environmental Energy Resources (EER), Israel]

    Case studies