Across the world, the waste produced by our societies is largely seen as a problem – but could it instead be an opportunity? Increasingly, waste-to-energy solutions are being deployed to convert trash into renewable energy that can be far cleaner than the average power generated through traditional energy production technologies.
Yet while waste-to-energy processing has been fairly widely adopted in Europe – with almost 500 waste-to-energy facilities in operation across the continent – uptake in the United States has been less progressive. According to BioEnergy Consult, there are currently only 86 municipal waste-to-energy facilities across 25 states for the purpose of energy recovery and, perhaps more significantly, the last new facility opened in 1995. So what is behind the apparent resistance to this renewable energy resource in the US?
One reason for the lack of adoption of waste-to-energy facilities in the US is, quite simply, budget. Construction of such renewable energy plants traditionally exceed $100 million, with larger plants far exceeding that figure, and many corporate and public entities are unwilling to make that kind of investment into technologies that may not provide sufficiently swift or large returns on the initial investment. This trend can also be confirmed in other sectors such as traditional energy production or roads infrastructure, paving the way, at least in the energy sector, for more efficient and adaptable newcomers.
Simultaneously, the growing importance of the energy smart grid facilitates the emergence of distributed, point-of-use energy production solutions such as the BLUE Tower.
According to an article in Scientific American, deploying waste-to-energy facilities nationwide could reduce waste volumes by up to 90 percent, with the remaining 10 percent mostly rendered to inert ash if properly incinerated.
The BLUE Tower waste to energy solution efficiently reduces waste volumes and produces a hydrogen-rich gas. Hydrogen is recognized worldwide as a solution to heavy duty transportation, where batteries take too long to be charged, or cannot provide enough range. Passenger vehicle manufacturers are also actively developing models, Toyota and Honda being the most prominent among them, each with several thousand vehicles on the road.