Business Talk : Let's talk about: Waste-to-Energy (Part 1)

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Benoit Englebert, Sales & Business Development Manager at Keppel Seghers talks about what sets the company apart and future developments of the waste-to-energy sector.

What products in waste-to-energy do you specialize in?

Keppel Seghers specialises in the supply of highly advanced combustion technology for waste-to-energy plants. Keppel Seghers will typically supply the technology from chute to stack in a waste-to-energy plant. Besides the technology supply, Keppel Seghers also operates the waste-to-energy plants to continuously maximize the availability, waste throughput, and energy production.

What sets your products apart from others?

First of all robustness: waste is a versatile and complex fuel that our technology can handle properly. Also, we have 40 years of research and development crystallized in our technology.

Flexibility: our technology adapts itself to the fluctuations in waste composition to produce a stable energy output while maximizing the waste throughput.

And last but not least availability.

Where do you see the biggest market growth?

Generally, 70% of the 2 billion tonnes of waste produced by our society still ends up in landfills, controlled or uncontrolled. With all the consequences on our environment and health like soil pollution, water contamination, plastic dissemination - just think of the Ocean garbage patch - methane emissions, black carbon emissions, hygiene issues, etc. There is a general and increasing pressure to decrease landfilling, among which the recognised role of methane emissions from landfilling. Methane has more than 80 times the global warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere.

The markets with the biggest growth in the coming years are Asia and China, Australia, retrofit market in Northern/Western Europe, UK, eastern and southern Europe, Middle East, and Russia.

How do you see the future of waste-to-energy?

Waste-to-energy plants already plays three crucial roles in our societies: they divert non-recyclable waste from landfill in a clean way, they recycle raw materials as far as possible (ferrous- and non-ferrous metals, minerals from the combustion-ashes); and they generate clean energy (steam for industry, electricity, district heating). Now a fourth role is being added: combined with carbon capture and usage/storage waste-to-energy are negative CO2 emissions facilities, waste and can decarbonise our societies.

How do you see the role of waste-to-energy in a circular economy?

Waste-to-energy enables the partial recycling of non-recyclable materials into new raw materials and energy. Non-recyclable waste is composed of the most diverse elements: toxic or contaminated materials - remember the paraben in the plastic of baby bottles; complex materials - a shoe, for example, is made of a lot of different materials that are challenging to segregate; materials that have already been recycled a number of times and have lost their proprieties -paper, for example, can be successfully recycled just five times.

All of which means that recycling doesn't bring any advantage, neither environmental nor economic. Waste-to-energy offers a unique alternative to landfill for those non-recyclable waste, by enabling the recycling of ferrous- and non-ferrous metals and mineral aggregates.