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“Burgeoning Prospects for Waste-to-Energy in the United States”. Ted Michaels President Energy Recovery Council March 10, 2010. What is Waste-to-Energy?.

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burgeoning prospects for waste to energy in the united states
“Burgeoning Prospects for Waste-to-Energy in the United States”

Ted MichaelsPresidentEnergy Recovery CouncilMarch 10, 2010


What is Waste-to-Energy?

Waste-to-Energy is a specially designed energy generation facility that uses household waste as fuel and helps solve some of society’s big challenges

Municipal Solid Waste 1 ton

Power: up to 750 kWh

Metal: 50 lbs

Ash: 10% of original volume


Converting Waste Into Clean Renewable PowerHelps Solve Three of the Nation’s Biggest Challenges

Green Jobs

- A new facility creates $1 Billion of economic activity

Clean, Renewable Energy

- 500,000 tons of MSW per year = 400,000,000 kWh

Climate Change

- One ton of trash avoids one ton of CO2 eq.

renewable energy
Renewable Energy
  • U.S. EPA states that Waste-to-Energy “produces electricity with less environmental impact than almost any other source”
  • 25 States and the federal government defined Waste-to-Energy as renewable
  • The United States must utilize all renewable sources to reach its goals
    • Waste-to-Energy produces up to 750kWh per ton while landfill gas produces 65 kWh per ton
    • Waste-to-Energy complements other renewable sources
      • 24 hours per day, 7 days per week
    • Fewer fossil fuels burned: 1 ton of waste ~¼ ton of coal or ~1 barrel of oil
  • A new 1,500 ton/day facility = 50 MW electricity
environmentally sustainable waste disposal
Environmentally Sustainable Waste Disposal
  • EPA’s MSW Hierarchy places Waste-to-Energy above landfill for disposal for post-recycled waste
  • Waste-to-Energy reduces Greenhouse gases
    • Every ton of waste processed avoids one ton of CO2 equivalent
  • Waste-to-Energy reduces the volume of waste by 90%
    • Extends the life of the landfills
    • Reduces future long haul transportation
waste to energy facility
Waste-to-Energy Facility

Reducing the Volume of Waste & Saving Space in the Landfill while Generating Clean, Renewable Energy

13,000 KWh generated

90% volume reduction


10 cubic yards

of (inert) ash


100 cubic yards

of waste

environmental performance waste to energy
Fact: “The performance of the MACT retrofit has been outstanding.” USEPA 8/10/2007Environmental Performance Waste-to-Energy

False: “The EPA requires incinerators “to use the best control technologies,” but unfortunately, the best control technology is a poor technology and ineffective of removing the toxins from an incinerators emissions.”


environmental performance waste to energy climate change
Environmental Performance Waste-to-EnergyClimate Change

False: “As a source of energy, burning trash produces more global warming CO2 than natural gas, oil, or even coal.” http://www.sierraclubmass.org/issues/legislative/incineration.htm

Waste Not, Want Not

Ted Michaels, Energy Recovery Council

April, 2009

Fact: The IPCC, in its 2007 4th Assessment Report (Synthesis Report, Table 4.2), calls

waste incineration with energy recovery a key waste mitigation technology.

waste to energy is compatible with recycling
Waste-to-Energy is Compatible with Recycling

Waste-to-Energy and recycling are complementary parts of an integrated waste management program.

  • 2009 report conducted by Eileen Berenyi of Governmental Advisory Associates
    • Actual recycling rate of WTE communities (33.2%) is greater than the national average (28.5% calculated by BioCycle/Columbia University)
    • Recycling rates of Massachusetts communities served by Waste-to-Energy plants are higher than state average (MA DEP data).
international perspective
International Perspective
  • Europe

EU Landfill Directive

65% reduction in landfilling of biodegradable Municipal Solid Waste

Currently over 400 Waste-to-Energy Facilities

2008 study estimated an additional 100 new facilities by 2012

  • China

Target 30% Waste-to-Energy by 2030

Preferential feed-in electricity tariff

  • Kyoto Protocol

Recognizes Waste-to-Energy as an eligible offset in CDM protocol

  • Davos Report—The World Economic Forum

Identifies eight emerging clean energy sectors including wind, solar and Waste-to-Energy.

legislative recognition
Legislative Recognition
  • Congress has provided incentives waste-to-energy in key ways:
  • Section 45 Renewable Energy Production Tax Credits
  • Federal Government Renewable Purchasing Program
  • Congressional proposals to establish Renewable Energy Standard (RES)
  • Congressional proposals to establish a cap-and-trade program and hold WTE harmless
waste to energy attractiveness
Waste-to-Energy Attractiveness
  • Factors that are making local governments look at WTE:
  • Energy Prices
  • Metal Recovery
  • Renewable incentives
  • Net-GHG reducer
  • Long-term price stability
  • Control over waste stream
waste to energy growth opportunities
Waste-to-Energy Growth Opportunities

WTE Expansions

Lee County, FL

Hillsborough County, FL

Olmsted, MN

Pope-Douglas, MN

Honolulu, HI

Hempstead, NY

Greenfield Projects

Frederick County, MD

Harford County, MD

West Palm Beach, FL

Los Angeles, CA

York-Durham, ON

Chester County, SC

Elbert County, GA

Cleveland, OH

Milwaukee, WI

Taunton, MA

Fall River, MA

  • Why are the Prospects for WTE Burgeoning in the United States?
  • Policymakers are looking for renewable energy sources that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Dependable and long-term solutions for municipal solid waste disposal remains a paramount concern for local governments.
  • Higher energy revenues, metals recovery, renewable incentives, and decades of operational efficiency have made waste-to-energy more cost-competitive.
  • High price of transportation fuel coupled with increased distance to new landfills makes landfilling more expensive.

For More Information:

Ted Michaels


Energy Recovery Council

1730 Rhode Island Avenue, NW Suite 700

Washington, DC 20036


[email protected]