From problem to prominence as a resource
Every day some 1.3 million tonnes of waste are generated by human activity around the world. Almost every town and city offers residents waste management and storage services, but relentlessly rising amounts of waste are having an ever greater impact on the environment. Fortunately, new technical solutions are helping to create more sustainable waste management systems by turning non-recyclable materials into a valuable energy resource.
Important political issue
Today the waste-to-energy industry, which generates electricity and heat by incinerating waste, is expanding all over the world. Burning one tonne of waste in this way has the potential to generate up to 800 kilowatt hours of electricity and 2,200 kilowatt hours of heat. Waste management has become an important political issue and the focus of legislation initiatives both in the Nordic countries and at EU level. Strong forces are at work to reduce landfill waste in Europe, for example by outlawing the disposal of unsorted combustible refuse and organic materials in landfills.
Jakob Sahlén, Energy Recycling Advisor for Avfall Sverige, the industry organisation for Sweden’s waste management and recycling sectors, is in no doubt about the benefits to society of waste-to-energy plants that produce electricity and heat:
“Some of the waste burned in these plants is so called source-sorted waste from homes and industry. This is waste that it has not been possible to recycle, either because of people’s unwillingness to do so, or the way local waste collection systems are designed. These plants also incinerate and destroy waste containing hazardous or undesirable substances that we do not want to see returned to the production chain. These, too, are converted into an important energy resource.”
ÅF assignment in Finland
The Finnish company Tammervoima Oy has awarded ÅF an engineering, procurement, and construction management (EPCM) contract in connection with the new Tarastenjärvi waste-to-energy cogeneration plant planned for Tampere, Finland. “The EPCM contract means ÅF is responsible for everything from technical project planning and procurement services to construction and site operation,” explains Risto Koivunen, an ÅF Section Manager with experience of EPCM work.
The plant will receive 150,000 tonnes of municipal waste a year and generate 310 GWh of district heat and 90 GWh of electricity for the surrounding region. Landfill gas from the existing waste treatment facility in Tarastenjärvi will be led through a new pipeline to be used in the combustion process. The plant will be the first in Finland to use environmentally harmful methane gas in this way, as a complementary fuel in energy production.
According to Tammervoima Oy, reasons for choosing ÅF included ÅFs experience with similar projects. “ÅF made us a cost-effective offer and had excellent references within the waste-to-energy area. It was important for us to choose a company that had experience with similar projects,” says Mika Pekkinen from Tammervoima Oy.