Currently Trending: Pyrolysis & Recycling Plants

US$5,059 million worth of projects were covered by our researchers last week, including 18 new additions and 26 updates.

The top waste trends included:

Click on the above trends to access a real-time project search in the AcuComm database.

#Editor’sPick – WtE & Biofuel Plants

Italy – WtE Plant

Construction of a waste-to-energy plant at a paper mill

Cartiera di Ferrara is working on plans to construct a waste-to-energy (WtE) pyrolysis plant and convert a mothballed paper machine to coreboard production. The facilities will be located at the Burgo paper mill in Duino Aurisina.

Due to its low environmental impact, the project will not be subject to an environmental impact assessment (EIA). When complete, the WtE facility will treat around 22,000 tonnes of waste from the paper production process and turn it into steam.

Catch up on the latest from this project.

Sweden – Biofuel Plant

Development of a biofuel plant

Earlier this month, it was revealed that E.ON Sveridge is planning to build a new biofuel-fired district heating plant in Norrköping.

KPA Unicon has been awarded a contract for the delivery of its Unicon WT70 bioenergy plant with a capacity of 70 MW. The facility will also have another 70 MW boiler and pellet system.

Groundbreaking is expected to take place in autumn this year, with operations commencing at the start of 2022.

Find out more about this project.

Trial project to produce biogas from grass waste

Last month, contractor Jos Scholman, the Hoogheemraadschap De Stichtse Rijnlanden (HDSR) water board, government body Rijkswaterstaat (RWS) and waste management company Attero jointly announced plans to start a trial project in February for the generation of biogas from roadside and canal-side grass. The trial will last six months and should generate knowledge about the yield and quality of biogas and the quantity and composition of the residual product (digestate) when grass alone is used. The special feature of this trial is that there is no manure involved in the fermentation process, which is usually the case.

A previous study by Jos Scholman in Utrecht revealed that the maintenance of roadsides, public gardens and ditches yielded 60,000 tonnes of grass and 1,000 tonnes of water plants each year, all of which was composted. If successful, the new trial will not only lead to the production of biogas from this resource, while also eliminating the requirement to collect and transport large quantities of manure and slurry, but also prevent the redistribution of litter and the reintroduction of invasive species such as knotweed back into the soil via traditional composting methods.

AcuComm currently lists 35 active AD/biogas projects which principally involve grass and related feedstocks, but do not rely on animal manure. These have a combined total value of US$548 million, or US$16 million each on average. Total average power generation is 75 MW, or around 2 MW per project. The bulk of current investments are in the UK or USA, with Germany, Korea and Canada also being significant.

ad grass

Written by Ian Taylor, Senior Editor & Research Consultant.

Polar bears march for waste management

I’d guess that shooting polar bears isn’t high on most people’s lists of environmentally aware activities. Yet this is what may be happening soon in the far north of Russia. Why, and what does this have to do with waste management?

Belushya Guba is located on Yuszhny Island, in the far northern Novaya Zemlya region of the Russian Arctic. It is the largest settlement in the region, despite having a population of only around 2,000. Its historic role was as a support to the Soviet military, although in recent years there have been attempts to diversify its economy.


Being so remote and surrounded by wilderness, the town has never developed any waste management facilities. Rubbish from households and businesses is simply taken to an open-air dump site just outside the town. In late 2018, this gave rise to an unexpected problem for the town’s inhabitants as dozens of polar bears appeared in its streets and, yes, at the waste dump. They were seemingly attracted by the smell and the prospect of food. They look cute, but in such large numbers can be aggressive and present a danger to the town’s residents.

Such an influx is unprecedented, according to the locals. The town authorities have declared an emergency over the issue, and, while they are looking at all other options, have not ruled out the ultimate need for a cull, as the bears appear unfazed by other means of dispersing them. Polar bears are an endangered species and shooting them would be as illegal in Russia as anywhere else.

One obvious measure is the closure of the waste dump and its replacement with something less attractive to bears. In February 2019, the authorities announced that a waste incinerator is to be built at Belushya Guba. This had been planned for 2024, but the current bear invasion seems to have concentrated minds, and the incinerator is now due to open next year, in 2020.

The plant, when built, is unlikely to be particularly large and as yet we have no information regarding contracting/supplying companies involved (see here for the AcuComm project listing). The story caught my eye for a number of reasons. Firstly, Belushya Guba is one of the most remote places on earth, yet even here there is awareness of the need for the proper, modern disposal of waste. Secondly, here’s an unexpected driver for investment in waste facilities. There are few of the normal pressures of population growth, economic development, space, environmental rules or power/heat generation. Just bears. Without them, the inhabitants could presumably have continued happily flinging their waste into the tundra indefinitely. But to deal with the bears in an environmentally responsible way, something needs to be done, and that means waste investment. Thirdly, building a modern waste plant, even a small one, is such a remote and inhospitable area will surely present some unique logistic and technological challenges.

Finally, yes, it has polar bears in it. That’s a first for the AcuComm database, even though we cover waste sector investments in 165 countries around the world. Here’s hoping the story has a happy ending, for both bears and townsfolk.

Written by Andy Crofts, Chief Data Analyst.

Currently Trending: Recycling, Landfill & EfW Facilities

US$3,442 million worth of projects were covered by our researchers last week, including 16 new additions and 30 updates.

The top waste trends included:

Click on the above trends to access a real-time project search in the AcuComm database.

#Editor’sPick – Waste Processing & Treatment Facilities

Iraq – MBT Facility & Landfill

Development of an MBT plant and landfill

Eggersmann Recycling Technology has signed a contract with Faruk for the supply of its newly-developed MSW drying system. It will be supplied to the new mechanical biological treatment (MBT) plant that is currently being constructed in Sulaymaniyah.

When operational, the facility will have an annual throughput capacity of 380,000 tonnes and will produce refuse-derived fuel (RDF) to be used at Faruk’s cement plant.

Find out more about this project.

Spain – Waste Treatment Facilities

Development of a waste treatment plant

The government of the Council of Ibiza has reported that it is constructing a waste treatment plant at the Ca na Putxa landfill. It will process MSW, organic, sludge and packaging waste.

The facility, which is due to be completed in 2020, will be split into three main processes: selection, biomethanisation and composting.

Catch up on the latest from this project.

Not all waste projects will succeed

This week I’d like to talk about failure. Or to put it another way, what ways do we have at AcuComm to analyse the likely success of any given waste sector investment, and what conclusions can be drawn from this analysis? It’s a worthwhile exercise for anyone interested in plotting the current and future shape of the global waste management sector.

Between 2014 and 2018, AcuComm reported on 5,161 waste investments around the world. Of these, 200 have since been confirmed as either cancelled, indefinitely postponed or no longer operating. This equals 3.9% of the total. But the true figure is likely to be a bit higher than that, as there is naturally a time lag between a project’s announcement and its cancellation. The confirmed failure rate for projects announced in 2014 is 7.2%, as of February 2019, while for projects recently-announced in 2018, it is only 0.7%.

graph1 Source: AcuComm database, February 2019

The AcuComm database shows a clear inverse correlation between the innovativeness of a project and its chances of success. By far the riskiest forms of investment in the 2014-18 period were projects involving gasification and related technologies. We reported on 151 of these, 22 of which have been confirmed cancelled; a failure rate of 14.6%, compared with the 3.9% average. Other above-average failure rates can be seen in the biofuels and AD/biogas sectors, at 6.9% and 4.3% respectively. In contrast, incineration projects had a failure rate of 3.1%.


Source: AcuComm database, February 2019

Over the 2014-18 period, three countries account for the highest level of failure rates. Among the major investment markets, Canada is the highest, with 18 failures out of 206, equal to 8.7%. Next is the USA with 69 out of 955, or 7.2%, and the UK with 34 from 516, or 6.6%. Failure rates in leading continental European markets appear to be far lower, as indeed they are also in Asian markets such as China or Japan.


Source: AcuComm database, February 2019

There are numerous factors in play here. On the face of it, it’s counterintuitive to expect Canada to be an inherently riskier market than France or China.

Richer, more developed markets have the money to invest in new technologies and are often home to those companies proposing more advanced technological solutions. Conversely, these markets often have the greatest pitfalls in the form of planning or environmental regulatory hurdles.

The greater the level of private sector involvement in the provision of waste management services, the ‘riskier’ projects will be put forward. Companies in these areas are, initially at least, more open to divulging and discussing their proposed activities, not least because they have a greater need to attract and retain backing from investors.

This is doubly true in markets where there is significant private involvement in the provision and management or waste services (as opposed to construction or equipment supply & maintenance). In this case, there is often far more openness about future planning. Where services are predominantly state-run, there is often less access to information about ongoing projects and, quite possibly, a greater degree of conservatism when deciding which solutions and technologies to opt for.

In summary, some markets are more likely to be profitable locations for more advanced technologies, and these can be expected to experience the highest failure rates. At the same time, some markets are more open to provision of data by suppliers and management corporations. Finally, the heartening news is that the great bulk of waste sector investments do eventually become operational. The AcuComm database is a great way to gauge the environment for a wide range of investments across the sector.

Written by Andy Crofts, Chief Data Analyst.

VTT develops new gasification technique

The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a new technique based on gasification, which offers a sustainable solution to turn forestry industry waste, such as bark, sawdust and prunings, into transport fuels and chemicals. The new technique reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 90% compared to fossil fuels.

VTT is using gasification to turn biomass into intermediate products – liquid hydrocarbons, methanol or methane – in production units integrated with communal district heating plants or forest industry power plants. The intermediate products are then processed further in oil refineries to make renewable fuels or chemicals.

VTT developed and piloted the new gasification process and evaluated the competitiveness of plants in the course of a project called BTL2030 which concluded in October 2018. The distributed generation process developed makes efficient use of the energy content of biomass. Approximately 55% of the energy content is turned into transport fuels and a further 20–25% can be used to provide district heating or to produce steam for industrial processes.

The process is based on VTT’s low-pressure, low-temperature steam gasification technology, simplified gas purification and small-scale industrial syntheses. Thanks to the small-scale approach, the heat generated by the process can be used throughout the year, and the process can be fuelled with local waste. Finland’s previous plans have involved considerably larger gasification-based diesel plants, the raw material demands of which could not have been satisfied with locally sourced waste. Moreover, it would have been impossible to make full use of the by-product heat of the large plants, and their energy efficiency would have therefore been easily less than 60%.

According to VTT’s Senior Principal Scientist Esa Kurkela “Not one of the large gasification plants of more than 300 MW that have been planned for Europe has been built yet. The almost €1 billion investment needed together with the risks associated with new technology has proven an insurmountable obstacle. The smaller scale of our solution makes it easier to secure funding for building the first plant based on the new technology”.

The BTL2030 project team estimates that the production costs of transport fuels made from domestic waste would amount to €0.8–1 per litre of petrol or diesel. The new technology is set to become considerably more competitive as the costs of the raw materials of competing technologies increase, and the process is expected to be highly competitive at least from the year 2030 onwards.

Experts estimate that, in addition to other measures, Finland will need sustainable biofuels to account for 30% of the energy consumption of the transport sector by 2030. Supplying half of this demand with domestic waste would require 5–10 locally integrated energy production plants. The 3.6% target set for advanced biofuels in the European Commission’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED2) equates to 11 million tonnes of oil, which would mean approximately 200 gasification plants in Europe alone.

In addition to transport fuels, the biomass gasification technique can be used to produce renewable raw materials to replace oil and natural gas in various chemical industry processes. Synthesis gas applications, on the other hand, could help in the attainment of several circular economy goals, such as close-loop recycling of plastics and other packaging materials.

The development of gasification technology is set to continue through two EU Horizon 2020 projects co-ordinated by VTT. The projects focus on gas purification and increasing the efficiency of synthesis technology and aim to demonstrate the performance of the entire biofuel chain at VTT’s Bioruukki piloting centre in Espoo, Finland. Another solution under development is a flexible hybrid process based on biomass and solar and wind energy, which can either be run on just biomass or be boosted with electrolysis. This provides an efficient way to store solar or wind energy as a renewable fuel and could as much as double the renewable fuel output of the biomass sources available.

biomass gas in Europe 2019

Biomass gasification projects in Europe by MW capacity. Source: AcuComm database.

The BTL2030 project partners were: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Fortum, Gasum, Helen Oy, Kumera, Gasification Technologies, Brynolf Grönmark, ÅF-Consult, Woikoski, Dasos Capital, Kokkolanseudun Kehitys and MOL Group.

Currently Trending: WtE & Biomass Plants

With 2019 promising to be another groundbreaking year, it’s paramount that businesses who operate in or sell into the waste, bioenergy and recycling industries keep up-to-date with where investments are being made.

Our latest waste trends include:

Click on the above trends to access a real-time project search in the AcuComm database.

#Editor’sPick – WtE & Biomass Facilities

Denmark – WtE Facility

Construction of the largest WtE facility in Northern Europe

The Danish Government and Hvidovre Municipality are in the process of planning the largest land reclamation project in Scandinavia, involving the development of nine new artificial islands just south of Copenhagen.

The largest has been reserved as the location for Northern Europe’s largest waste-to-energy (WtE) plant and will also be home to biowaste and wastewater treatment facilities. The plant will produce the equivalent of 25% of Copenhagen’s power consumption.

See the latest from this project.

US – Biomass Facility

Development of a biomass heating facility and transmission system

Dartmouth College is looking to build a new biomass energy heating facility and transmission system to replace its existing central heating system. It is expected to cost upwards of US$200 million and will mark a major step in the university’s commitment to reduce its environmental impact.

A site for the plant is expected to be selected in the next few months, with operations commencing by late 2025.

Find out more about this project.