China to build world’s largest waste burner

China’s city of Shenzhen will play host to the world’s largest waste-to-energy power plant by 2020, which will be capable of burning 5,000 tonnes of garbage daily. Here’s how they’re doing it.

shenzen incineration

A massive waste-to-energy (WTE) power plant, which can burn the equivalent of one-third’s waste generated by Shenzhen’s 20 million residents every year, is scheduled to begin operations by 2020.

The proposed 267,000-square metre facility will be capable of incinerating 5,000 tonnes of trash every day, said Danish architecture firms Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects and Gottlieb Paludan Architects, which won an international competition to design the power plant.

The Shenzhen East Waste-to-Energy Plant, which will be located on the mountainous outskirts of Shenzhen, aims to showcase Waste-to-Energy production as an important solution in dealing with growing waste by using it to generate electricity, the firms noted.

The facility will also be used to educate the public on the challenges of waste disposal and ways it can be reduced.  

This video shows the architectural concept behind the power plant, such as the proposed circular design of the building instead of a traditional rectangular layout, which minimises carbon footprint by reducing the amount of excavation needed on the site.

Over 65 per cent of the plant’s roof (or up to 44,000 square metres) will be fitted with photovoltaic solar panels, which converts solar energy into direct current electricity. A park with panoramic views and walkways will also be constructed around the plant to attract visitors.

Burning waste is not an ideal way to solve mounting waste problems in many countries worldwide because it also emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But as one of China’s major industrial cities, Shenzhen’s waste continues to pile up after four overloaded landfills. In response, the government has plans to build at least three WTE plants in the next three years.  

WTE plants will be a solution for waste management and not energy, said Chris Hardie, partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects to US website Fast Company

“Cities have to move towards more recycling and reducing their waste for sure—and of course developing more sources of renewable energy. That is sort of the point we are making by proposing this [as] the first waste-to-energy plant that has a renewable component to it,” he added.

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