Amidst grim power situation in states such as Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka owing to crisis with coal supplies, Waste to Energy facility coming up at Okhla could prove to be a blessing in disguise for Denizens fighting a losing battle against burgeoning Municipal Solid Waste. However, what can be described as a cherry on the cake is the fact that power generated through this facility could lit up 60,000 households.
Delhi is all set to take a giant leap towards a greener future in November by setting up India’s first large-scale, commercial, fully integrated “Waste to Energy facility” at Okhla.
Disposal of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) from time immemorial has posed grave challenge to environment and a major health hazard to people residing in the city. However, the problem has assumed mammoth proportion with rampant urbanization and industrialization in the last two decades. Besides, playing havoc on environment, inefficient waste management has lead to loss of precious materials and resources.
Here’s is a quick brush with the ground reality and how effective an integrated waste management approach can prove in waste prevention and minimization. For long the 3R concept (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) has encapsulated this life-cycle approach to waste. But the new waste to energy approach can solve the twin problem of power shortage and overflowing landfill sites while adopting the 3R concept.
Reality Bytes: In developing countries like India, the per capita generation of solid waste has increased by 50%-100% over the last 20 years. According to a study conducted in the year 2008, the inhabitants of Delhi generate about 8000 tones of MSW daily, which is projected to rise to 17,000-25,000 tones per day by the year 2021. MSW management has remained one of the most challenging areas of the municipal system in Delhi. Despite the stress by environment ministry and Delhi Government’s green initiatives only 90-95% of MSW is collected while rest lies unattended on streets or in small open dumps. Meanwhile, about 5% of the collected MSW is treated through composting, the only treatment option, and rest is disposed in uncontrolled open landfills at the outskirts of the city. The existing composting plants are unable to operate to their intended treatment capacity due to several operational problems. Therefore, along with residue from the composting process, the majority of MSW is disposed in landfills. In absence of leachate and landfill gas collection systems, these landfills are a major source of groundwater contamination and air pollution (including generation of greenhouse gases particlurly methane at large which is 21 times more dangerous than carbon di oxide).
World View: Around 900 waste-to-energy (WtE) plants are operational around the world, including; Asian countries such as China, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan and Korea. However, in india this is a first of its kind initiative taken by the Delhi government seeing the acute shortage of land in Delhi.Hence, this scenario is set to change with the country’s first large-scale, commercial, fully integrated WtE facility likely to be commissioned at Okhla by end-2011.
Okhla WtE project: Developed by Okhla Waste Management Company Private Limited (Okhla Wt Plant on a private-public partnership basis with JindalITF Ecopolis (JITF Ecopolis) and the Delhi government, the 16 MW Okhla Wt Plant has been awarded a 25-year concession period by the state machinery to design, engineer, finance, construct, operate and manage this project on a build, own, operate and transfer basis.
The project, a brainchild of Government of Delhi was conceived in the year 2005, After obtaining all the clearances by the Delhi govt. to Okhla Wt Plant project, a bidding process was initiated by the Delhi Government and awarded to JUIL. LOI was allotted on 26.01.2008. Annexure B of the LOI has clearly established that this project is selected one of the pilot project under MNRE program on energy recovery from MSW. Okhla Wt Plant, has an average plant load factor of 97 per cent on the basis of 330 days of operation (and approximately 90 per cent on the basis of 365 days of operation).
The project has been mired in controversy from the time of inception; currently it is facing resistance from the residents of Sukhdev Vihar in South Delhi who have cited pollution and traffic congestion as the reasons for their stiff opposition. The project also poses a major threat to the livelihood to garbage pickers and recycling workers. However unfazed by this protest the state government has filed an affidavit at the apex court and is continuing with the construction of the plant and if everything goes per design the project will see light soon. Similar plants set up worldwide faced opposition at the time of their inception, but all the voices of opposition drowned once the people started benefiting from it and a greener and cleaner future beckoned.
The opposition comes at a time when Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath on a tour to Brussels is inviting partnership in waste recycling, transport, sustainable energy.
Technology Involved: The project which is based on the stoker technology for treating waste does not require any additional fossil fuel to generate heat from the waste. Both the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the New Delhi Municipal Corporation will supply MSW for the plant. The MSW would enter the facility through an enclosed area having negative pressure so that no foul odour emanates after which segregation of large plastics and metals from the waste would take place. This would be followed by mixing and pressing of MSW by hydraulic cranes to remove humidity and transform the waste into homogeneous matter. The waste will then be subjected to controlled combustion to generate steam (using boilers) to drive the turbines. The flue gases coming out from the boiler will be treated with proven flue gas cleaning system and resulting gas output will be much less than the desired standards all over the world. The ash produced as byproduct can be reused for road construction, manufacturing of bricks, etc. All the steam generated from the boilers will be used for commercial power generation, except for an insignificant quantity that will be used for sealing the glands of the condensing turbine and for the evaporator dryer of the leachate treatment system.
At the same time Indian waste is having low percentage of plastic which play significant role to generate dioxin and furans as compared to other countries ( 1% to 2 % as compared to 10%) due to strong presence of rag pickers and Kabadi.
Economics Involved: The project which is coming up on 15 acres of land is estimated to cost the exchequer a whooping Rs 240 Cr. without land component which in turn is almost 3 times higher than normal travelling grate technology available in India as per data available with CERC. The project is being financed through a mix of debt and equity in a 70:30 ratio. The company would be receiving a capital subsidy from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, which will be utilised for repayment of debt.
The project has also been registered with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and will earn 2.6 million certified emission reductions over a period of 10 years. It may be noted that there is a established long drawn process to get register any project with UNFCCC to get eligibility for carbon credits. After getting registration and verification of the project which is done by renowned accredited agency (with UNFCCC) considering the socio economic back ground from Executive Board of UNFCCC , these carbon credits have been awarded to Compost plant at Okhla. This is a clear evidence that MSW facilities are net reducer of GHG emissions.
Multi prong benefits: The project which is based on the “zero waste concept” would process 1, 350 tonnes of MSW per day. Once the plant becomes fully operational, equivalent to one third of the municipal waste generated in Delhi. The plant would use treated sewage to process water for the project and 135 tonnes of ash that is produced as byproduct would be used for construction of roads and bricks.
The plant would also generate 16 MW of power which could meet the energy needs of over 600,000 homes. The electricity generated will be the main source of revenue for the company. Meanwhile, recyclables like plastic, aluminum and iron segregated from the MSW could also be used to generate revenues for the plant.