The quantity of waste is increasing with modern living standards and greater population. Several technologies are currently available for the treatment of municipal solid waste (MSW), but due to high Capex, Opex and other limitations, these are not being implemented.
Due to higher investment costs, municipal authorities are unable to upgrade or scale up the facilities required for proper management of MSW. Even though the technology of waste-to-energy (WTE) projects has been proven worldwide, its viability and sustainability is yet to be demonstrated and established in the country.
The main factors that determine the techno-economic viability of WTE projects are quantum of investment, scale of operation, availability of quality waste, statutory requirements and project risks. Hence, there is an urgent need to develop an economical and sustainable technology which can generate energy from MSW while addressing the critical MSW disposal issues.
In this regard, a few developments have already started taking shape.
Recently, the Government of India issued a request for proposal (RFP) to build WTE projects in the country. On behalf of the government, the Department of Biotechnology (a part of the Ministry of Science and Technology) will be undertaking the implementation part of WTE projects ranging from 1 to 10 tonnes per day (TPD). These projects will be based on public-private partnership (PPP), by engaging Indian entities, industry, PSUs and municipal corporations. A project proponent needs to complete a project with the timeframe of two years.
The government, in its RFP, has called for a few specifications that include biological (in combination with thermo‐chemical) routes for generation of clean energy, development of safe microbial consortium capable of degrading waste under aerobic and anaerobic conditions at a faster rate, and safe re‐use and disposal of treated waste/by-products generation. Importantly, the government has asked for specific technologies that will have a minimum usage of resources like water, land and power. In addition, it has also called for technologies for conversion of leachate generated from landfills.
The RFP also mentions innovative biological technologies that will generate energy in the form of fuel. The technologies should comply with the upcoming Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. The last date of submission for this RFP is October 31, 2016.