As per an estimate, urban India generates 188,500 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day — 68.8 million tons per year and expected to grow at 1.3% per capita p.a. — and waste generation increases by 50% every decade. Some of this waste will be recovered by informal recyclers — 20% in large cities and less in smaller cities. However, more than 80% reaches open dumpsites where it causes damaging public health, deteriorating the environment, and causes climate change. With the growing urbanization, the quantity of domestic waste that is going to be generated would be alarming.
Most Countries across the globe have adapted waste to energy model to support their traditional power generation systems and manage the waste at the same time. In last four decades Germany, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and Netherlands have put up more than 420 waste-to-energy plants which are already supplying clean electricity to their citizens. Recently, Sweden reduced its waste landfills to such a level that it became insufficient for them to produce enough electricity converted from waste. Surprisingly, city municipals are now squabbling over their shares of waste. In fact Waste to Energy in India is the most viable proposition as this not only reduces the dump sizes drastically but also contributes to easing the current energy shortfall in the country. Just think, with population like our country’s, if we don’t utilise this ‘asset’ it would be a sheer waste.
There had been a lot of technological advancement globally and we need to take a cue from these success stories for creating a better waste management and WtE roadmap. The technology also needs to be test approved specifically for non segregated Indian waste. Foreign technology cannot be implemented in India because Indian Waste has different characteristics than that of foreign country’s waste. Indian waste has high moisture content and during monsoon season moisture level further goes up causing adverse effect on thermal technologies.
Comparing the biological, chemical and thermal treatment options in the Indian scenario, the biological processing (Anaerobic Digestion) options should get the priority. Composting and vermin composting are slow processes and requires a large space.
Organic Recycling System Pvt. Ltd (ORS) has successfully commercialised the model of recycling waste to generate electricity and other materials for high revenue and returns. One of its kind non-thermal process namely DRYAD, patented to efficiently handle Indian waste by ORS, is a made in India solution for “waste to Energy (WTE)” creating a milestone in the area of renewable energy. ORS successfully utilises anaerobic digestion technology to generate 1 mega watt power with every 100 tons of waste recycled.
ORS converts waste into electricity and have introduced leading innovative technologies suitable in Indian environment. Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) contains organic as well as inorganic matter. The latent energy present in its organic fraction can be recovered for gainful utilization through adoption of suitable Waste Processing and Treatment Technologies. The process is based on enzymatic decomposition of organic matter by microbial action to produce methane gas, and alcohol etc. It is a preferred method for wastes having high percentage of organic, bio-degradable (putrescible) matter and high level of moisture/ water content, which aids microbial activity and suits perfectly to Indian waste.
Suhas Bhand, Founder and Chairman ORS says “ORS has its focus on acquiring, adapting and developing ‘Green Technologies’ so as to deploy them to provide sustainable urban waste management solutions while leveraging Information Technology in all stages of the project life cycle right from conceptualisation to post project delivery, with conformance to Total Quality Management (TQM) standards.”
The company is currently processing waste at their project based out of Sholapur (400 TPD) generating and supplying electricity to the respective state grid and selling quality compost to fertiliser plants. Soon ORS shall be commissioning Pune (750 TPD) and Bangalore (1000 TPD) projects.
The environmental benefits of waste to energy based on Anaerobic Digestion technology, as an alternative to disposing of waste in landfills, are clear and compelling. Waste to energy generates clean, reliable energy from a renewable fuel source, thus reducing constant use of fossil fuels and hence environmentally preferred. WtE measures would reduce the quantity of wastes, generate a substantial quantity of energy from them, and greatly reduce pollution of water and air, thereby offering a number of social and economic benefits that cannot easily be quantified. The provision of organic manure, refuse derived fuel as alternate fuel for cement plants are additional means of completing doing away the rejects of waste treatment. Actually no waste should be treated as waste but a Resource; we should manage it well and utilize it to the fullest.
According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), there exists a potential of about 1700 MW from urban waste (1500 from MSW and 225 MW from sewage) and about 1300 MW from industrial waste. This is estimated to go upto 5200 MW from 304,000 TPD in year 2017. The ministry is also actively promoting the generation of energy from waste, by providing subsidies and incentives for the projects. Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) estimates indicate that India has so far realized only about 2% of its waste-to-energy potential. So going by the figures the sector offers huge potential; and the Government should re-look at the sector for giving it a standalone recognition and development benefits which would catapult the sector to equal with solar or wind sectors.