Energy Tekes Technology Programme
Background and objectives
In Finland, the annual costs of waste management are about EURO 0.9 billion. About 3 million tonnes of municipal waste are generated yearly, and roughly the same amount of similar industrial waste. The energy content of these wastes is about 4 Mtoe/a, and most of it is currently disposed in landfills. New waste taxes and growing landfill charges increase interest in recycling and using waste as a source of energy. The basic aims of waste politics are primarily to prevent the generation of waste, to make use of waste in the form of materials and for energy, and to carry out safe final disposal of unusable waste. The most important aim over the next few years will be to develop source-separation methods for waste in order to direct waste both for material recovery and for energy use. It is possible to use large amounts of wastes for energy generation, but this involves development of energy technology for new waste flows and power plant systems. Increasing use for energy also supports material recycling, as the costs of source-separation can be focused on the whole quantity of waste.
There are about 1 000 waste management companies operating in Finland. The interest of companies in waste recovery is based on the following issues: reduction of landfill disposal, increase in competitiveness by reducing raw material, waste and energy costs, and growing domestic and export markets.
A condition for thermal utilisation of waste is that the emissions can be reduced to a level that does not burden the environment. Wastes and sludges can be burnt in waste-combustion plants or by co-firing as so-called secondary fuel in existing boilers. Co-combustion technology is currently developed in Finland, and there are about 40 grate, circulating-bed and fluidised-bed boilers co-firing source-separated waste. Different recovered fuels, like plastics, packages, construction waste, and pre-separated household waste can be fired or gasified in grate and fluidised-bed boilers designed for solid fuels, typically in proportions of 10 - 40%. There are hardly any problems in district heating boilers firing clean source-sepaarated waste, while steam generation in big power boilers sets higher quality requirements for co-combustion.
There are a number of problems related to the overall recycling system in co-combustion of wastes. For example, the behaviour of ash causes problems. The problems due to unburned ash often result in shutdowns, in addition to technical problems involved in waste feed. Hence, the quality of waste is the critical issue in co-combustion. By a suitable separation and handling of waste fuels, harmful components can be removed from the waste fuel, e.g., glass, metals and PVC from prescreened household waste (RDF).
Demand and export markets will be found for Finnish fuel processing technologies and for combustion, gasification and pyrolysis technologies during the search for new and competitive alternatives for the energy use of waste and for profitable alternatives to mass combustion.
OBJECTIVES OF THE PROGRAMME
The aim is to evolve methods of parallel energy recovery and material recycling with special emphasis on system development. Development work is market-oriented by resolving individual customers' specific problems related to energy recovery from waste. Advanced methods of upgrading waste to energy and of waste conversion will be developed. Methods will be developed specific to individual companies or investment plans.
Characterisation and quality-classification of wastes and recovered fuels is a focus area in order to upgrade recovered fuels suitable for marketing. Environmental issues related to the quality and use of waste fuels will also be studied.
The focus of the programme is on energy technology, while it is crucial to know the whole chain and to have all parties operated for a common target. Energy use is one of the most feasible ways of utilising large waste masses, in addition to material recycling. Integrated with energy business, it is possible to carry on feasible business on the waste field, and significant savings are achieved in waste management compared with landfill disposal or mass combustion. A target is also to save about FIM 100/t waste in treatment/handling costs with the new overall systems, compared with those of landfill disposal or mass combustion. This can involve annual savings of FIM 400 - 600 million and a reduction of about 2 million t/a in greenhouse gas emissions.
The aim is also to network companies, authorities and research interests in order to secure the transfer of research results and other information between different parties in Finland. The technologies have also a significant export potential. In Energy 2020 publication, EU proposes ECU 20 - 40 billion for bioenergy and waste investments, the proportion of wastes being 10 - 30% of these.
The total financing of the four-year programme (1998 - 2001) is expected to be FIM 80 - 120 million.
WASTE TO ENERGY PROBLEMS AND BENEFITS
Mrs. Helena Manninen, Tekes, tel. +358 10 521 5888
Prof. Kai Sipilä, VTT Processes, tel. +358 9 456 5440