Wast to energy plants: Will energy put in these projects go to waste?

BENGALURU: For a decade, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has mulled over switching from conventional waste processing plants to wasteto-energy (WtE ) plants. And just when it has resulted in some action, there is much apprehension about the functioning of WtE units. Courtesy, absence of a WtE success story in the country.

Until Nexus Novus, an urban waste solution providing company entered the picture in 2015, no investor was willing to invest in a WtE plant. Nexus Novus signed a concession agreement with the BBMP and power purchase agreement with Bescom. Backed by the Netherlands government and having UAE-based business tycoon BR Shetty as investor, Nexus Novus quickly planned a Rs 360-crore plant. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah even laid the foundation stone for the project a month ago.

While this would be the first WtE plant in Bengaluru, a few other projects, including by Switzerland- based Satarem, Zee Group’s Essel Infrastructure and a French company 3WAYSTE, are also in the pipeline. When and if they materialise, each of these plants is expected to handle over 500 tonnes of waste per day.

Waste management experts are, however, apprehensive about them. Sandya Narayanan, a member of Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT) said that the major failure in cities where WtE plants are already functional, was in converting mixed waste into energy. “In Bengaluru, we are visualising plants that compost wet waste and convert re- fuse-derived fuel (RDF) into energy. The High Court has very clearly said that waste processing plants including WtE cannot accept mixed waste,” Narayanan said.

Also, a WtE plant cannot be successful if the finance model is based on tipping fee, said Narayanan. The incentive paid to contractors should be on the basis of the output, she said.

Rutger De Bruijn, CEO of Nexus Novus confirmed that the city corporation will not pay them the tipping fee, and that a profit has to be made by selling energy to Bescom. “We have signed a power purchase agreement with Bescom. If the power company fails to purchase power, we can challenge it in the court,” the CEO said.

However, the concession agreements signed between the BBMP and two companies — Nexus Novus and Satarem — has no mention of the WtE accepting segregated waste. Both the companies claim that they will have a segregation unit in their respective plants.

“Waste is converted into energy only after the wet waste is segregated from dry waste,” said Venkatesh Sivarama, Executive Director of Satarem India. Satarem’s project is expected to be developed at a cost of Rs 250 crore.

Yet another factor that waste management experts are concerned about is the pollution caused by WtE plants. “We already have a bad example of WtE plant in Okla (Delhi). The Okla plant is adding up to the air pollution,” said NS Ramakanth, a member or the expert committee and SWMRT.

Both Nexus Novus and Satarem claimed that they will use clean technology for processing. While Nexus Novus has opted for gasification technology, Satarem has opted for co-combustion.

Mozaffar EtezadiFar

Founder at Energykade
Mozaffar owns degrees in electrical engineering as BSc and power management as MSc. He has worked in fields of energy and e-commerce. He believes that energy and IT can help each other to save more energy and our planet. So here is energykade...
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