Assessment of environmental and economic performance of Waste-to-Energy facilities in Thai cities

In Renewable Energy
Volume (Issue): 86
Peer-reviewed Article

Waste-to-Energy (WtE) technologies seem to be an option to tackle the growing waste management problems in developing Asia. This paper presents a quantitative assessment of the environmental and economic attributes of two major WtE technologies: landfill gas to energy (LFG-to-energy) and incineration in Thai cities. Net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, net fossil resource consumption and net life-cycle cost (LCC) were used as the basic indicators for measuring performance of these two technologies from a life cycle perspective. The assessment found that at the current efficiency level, both the LFG-to-energy project and the incineration facility contribute to GHG mitigation and fossil resource savings as compared to the Business as Usual (BAU) practice. However, the financial returns from these operations are very low and insufficient to compensate the costs. The paper argues that substantial improvements of WtE plants can be made by adopting proper management practices, enhancing the efficiencies of energy production. Such upgrading would further reduce GHG emissions, increase fossil resource savings and strengthen the financial performance to the benefit of local governments. The authors recognize the potential of incorporating other treatment options along with WtE technologies, for moving towards more sustainable waste management approaches like integrated waste management systems.