Waste to energy - The boom continues led by Europe and China

The boom years are set to continue for the global waste to energy incineration market, in spite of the European financial crises, growing to 7.2 billion euros per year by 2016, according to a new report by German environmental consultancy, ecoprog.

The report said that at present approximately 6.1 billion euros per year is invested in new construction, modernisation and maintenance of thermal waste to energy plants throughout the world.

Across the world there are some 2150 thermal waste treatment plants currently operational, and, according to ecoprog those facilities have the capacity to treat almost 250 million tonnes of waste per year.

Around a further 250 new waste to energy facilities with a capacity of approximately 70 million tonnes per year will be commissioned by 2016, the report found.

The increasing lack of space in urban areas throughout the world and the decline of available landfill capacity are cited as the main contributing factors for the dynamic global market for the new construction of waste incineration plants.

China and Europe leading the way

Furthermore, the report claimed that local real estate industries often prevent larger areas being used for landfills. At present, this process is said to be most obvious in China, which has been commissioning larger incineration capacities than any other country of the world for many years.

Between 2012 and 2016, further capacities of about 40 million annual tonnes are expected to be built in China. The report’s authors said that this is a new record and more than 50 per cent of new capacity globally.

Within the same period around 21 million annual tonnes of new capacity is expected to come on line in Europe.

While this is considerably less capacity than China is building, in monetary terms, the report said that the European market continues to be the world’s most important.

In the next five years approximately 18 billion euros will be invested in Europe’s waste to energy plants, with around 12 billion euros invested in Asia.

The main reason cited for these differences regarding capacities and investment is the significantly lower calorific value of Asian waste - Asian plants of the same size incinerate more waste.

In addition the report found that both technological and ecological standards differ between regions.

New markets maintain growth in EU

In Europe, new markets such as the UK, Poland and individual Scandinavian countries are now compensating for the decline of previously strong growth markets such as Germany and the Netherlands, according to ecoprog.

In these countries, the EU Landfill Directive continues to be the main market driver for the additional construction of plants.

Significantly, the report found that for the first time in many years, new waste to energy projects are currently being implemented in North America. However, the authors cautioned as to whether this will result in a stronger market in North America in the long term.

Furthermore, the report found that many emerging countries are still underachieving, with countries such as India and Brazil lacking the necessary structure and funding for implementing waste to energy projects.

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