As a part of India’s Smart City programme, waste management is the top area of concern for all the country’s municipal corporations. This is mainly because, at the current rate, the country will generate 165 million tonnes of municipal waste annually by 2031, and 436 million tonnes by 2050.
Further, if the current 62 million tonnes of municipal waste generated annually continues to be dumped without treatment, landfill space to the tune of 3,40,000 cubic metres will be required everyday (which works out to 1,240 hectares of landfill space per year). Considering the projected waste generation of 165 million tonnes by 2031, the requirement of land for setting up landfills for 20 years (distributed over 10-metre high waste piles) could be as high as 66,000 hectares.
A government task force set up by the Environment Ministry has taken a serious view of this situation, and considers it imperative to minimise the wastes going to landfills by at least 75 per cent, through processing of MSW, using appropriate technologies.
At present, the technologies in question are refuse-derived fuel (RDF), bio-methanisation and an advanced technology called combustion. Although these technologies work differently, all of them eliminate waste and produce energy.
Meanwhile, Jabalpur Municipal Corporation will be India’s first to install a Smart WTE facility in association with Essel Infraprojects Ltd. The plant is yet to be commissioned.
The facility has the capacity to process 600 tonnes per day (TPD) of municipal solid waste (MSW) for producing electricity of 11.5 MW. Meanwhile, this plant introduces a first-of-its-kind, innovative MSW treatment solution in India, focusing on energy saving, higher efficiency, and reduced environmental impact. This has resulted in lower costs of disposal of MSW to the Jabalpur Municipal Corporation.
At present, Essel Infraprojects remains the only player in India to introduce an exclusive technology — grate combustion — in the country, through an exclusive tie-up with Hitachi Zosen. The process runs on the best-proven waste treatment technology, and has been successfully deployed in well over 1,000 plants globally. The plant complies with the relevant European standards.
One of the important elements of grate combustion is flue gas treatment. Combinations of several individual cleaning components are utilised to provide an effective overall flue gas treatment system.
It’s an effective way for a clean and efficient waste-to-energy plant, as the correct function of this system guarantees that all relevant emissions are below the legal limits. It also helps in keeping the pressure in control and emissions down to low levels, and ensures a steady operation over the years.
So how does this plant — and the underlying technology — fit in with India’s Smart City plans? The per capita generation rate of MSW in India ranges from 0.2 to 0.5 kg/day, and on an aggregate, 170,000 TPD of MSW is generated across the country. Annually, an estimated 62 million tonnes of MSW is generated by the 377 million people who live in India’s urban areas. More than 80 per cent of this waste has been disposed indiscriminately at dump yards in an unhygienic manner by various municipal authorities, leading to problems of health and environmental degradation.
This untapped waste, which comprises 32,890 TPD of combustible wastes including Refused Derived Fuel (RDF), has a potential of generating 439 MW of power annually. The Jabalpur plant also helps the municipal corporation to free up around 4.4 hectares of land, while processing 219,000 tonnes of solid waste in Jabalpur city, on an annual basis.
What’s more, the same plant can generate 11.5 MW of power, which can power 18,000 households. If each Indian city commissions such WTE plants based on combustion technology, these facilities can not only bring down the power deficit, but can also help in electrifying rural hamlets on the periphery of urban settlements.
In addition, there are environmental benefits that can be derived from these plants. One tonne of solid waste emits two tonnes of CO2 — Essel’s plant will result in an overall reduction of 438,000 tonnes of CO2 emission for the city of Jabalpur.
Governmental norms also favour this facility — according to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, it is mandatory that the municipal corporation absorbs all the power generated by this plant.