Currently Trending: Biomass & MBT Investment

US$4,294 million worth of projects were covered by our researchers last week, including 19 new additions and 29 updates.

The top waste trends included:

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

#Editor’sPick – Biomass & Biogas Plants

Brazil – Biomass Plant

Development of a wood-fuelled biomass plant

The State Environmental Protection Agency has issued a construction licence for a new biomass plant in Cambará do Sul, allowing work to start.

The facility will have the capacity to process over 700,000 tonnes of forestry and sawmill waste each year, producing 50 MW of electricity.

Catch up on the latest from this project.

Belarus – Biogas Plants

Construction of three biogas plants

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will be providing a US$11.3 million loan for the construction of two biogas plants in Belarus.

The plants will be situated in Brest and Minsk and will generate 23.6 GWh of clean energy each year.

Construction is expected to start in Spring, alongside another biogas plant in Brest which is being funded by a local bank. Operations are expected to begin by the end of 2019.

Find out more about this project.

Do you care about China?

Anyone reading AcuComm’s waste reports will know there is a lot going on in China. Since January 2018, AcuComm has collected information on 123 new waste projects in China. The majority of these (87, or 70%) are for WtE incineration of waste. They have a combined estimated value of US$13.2 billion, or US$106 million each, with a feedstock throughput of 46.3 million tonnes (roughly 1,200 tonnes per day on average) and power generation of 2,095 MW (17 MW each).

The map below shows the distribution of these investments; principally in the richer areas of the east, but increasingly in the major urban centres further inland. China is clearly experiencing something of a waste investment boom. Remember, these projects are just those announced over the past year.

china-map Source: AcuComm database, March 2019

The principal driver of this investment is rapid urbanisation and economic growth, allied to a historic lack of modern waste facilities. I mentioned Shenzhen in an earlier article; this city near Hong Kong has grown from near zero to 12 million people in just a few decades. This has been the consequence of government policies, which have striven to create wealthy urban centres, largely in the east. This has been all-too successful from a waste management point of view, as modern facilities have either not been built or have been overwhelmed by demand. In recent years, the Chinese government has altered its focus to greater development of previously-poorer cities further west and inland, such as Chongqing. These places are far from empty. Chongqing municipality famously has over 30 million people, although it should be noted that the city itself accounts for only a fraction of this.

The traditional method of waste disposal in China has been, at best, landfill which is often unmanaged, or simple dumping of waste outside a city’s boundaries. This has become unpopular and increasingly difficult to ignore. No wonder therefore that China’s municipal authorities have tended to seize on waste incineration as a relatively quick and easy way to ameliorate the problem. China is building, or plans to build, some of the largest waste-to-energy facilities in the world over the next few years. There is perhaps an element of competition here, as city governments compete with each other to be seen to be addressing the issue with certainty.

So, China is a boom market for waste plants, which should gladden the international industry. But does it? The market is heavily concentrated in the hands of Chinese companies. The most important of these are China Everbright International, based in Hong Kong, and Chongqing Sanfeng Covanta Environmental Industry. A lot of waste plants have been built using Chinese companies alone, although there is a degree of technology transfer. There are a handful of European companies active in this respect, headed by Martin GmbH fur Umwelt und Energietechnik, which mainly provides equipment for Chongqing Sanfeng Covanta, as well as a few major Japanese players such as Hitachi Zosen and Mitsubishi. Equipment suppliers or contractors from the USA, Canada or the UK appear to be almost entirely absent from the market.

Why is this? It would seem that China remains a difficult market, in perception and maybe reality too. Anecdotal evidence suggests that worries about intellectual property persist, alongside a perception of bureaucracy, corruption and political interference. Nor should China be seen as an easy place to throw up any old plant. A lot of prestige attaches to adherence to international standards, and even in these cases, developments can be held up for years in the face of popular opposition. For example, the Beijing city government has long had plans to build more plants than it has ever been politically able to do. Click here for some clips from a 2010 documentary on the subject.

A small number of companies outside China have taken the plunge, headed by Martin GmbH, which is clearly concentrating on China as a principal export market. Should others look at following suit? Waste generation in China is only going to increase as the economy expands and the average wealth of the Chinese people rises accordingly. And while the current focus appears to be squarely on WtE incineration, other areas, such as environmentally-aware recycling, sorting and advanced resource recovery, are severely under-developed but will surely be needed in future. The market may be difficult, but the opportunities are clearly there for anyone with a long term perspective.

Written by Andy Crofts, Chief Data Analyst.

Is forest biomass a renewable energy source?

A landmark lawsuit was filed against the European Union in early March, with plaintiffs from six countries charging that the EU’s 2018 Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) will devastate forests and increase greenhouse gas emissions by promoting burning forest wood as renewable and carbon neutral.

The case argues that RED II will accelerate widespread forest devastation and significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions by not counting CO2  emissions from burning wood fuels. Wood-fired power plants emit more CO2  per unit of energy generated than coal plants, but RED II counts these emissions as zero.  The treatment of forest biomass as low or zero-carbon renewable energy in both RED I and RED II has and will continue to increase harvesting pressure on forests in Europe and North America to meet the growing demand for woody biomass fuel in the EU.

The map below shows all wood-fired biomass incineration projects in the EU in the AcuComm database, as of March 2019. There are 358 in total, of which 215 are known to be operational. The total estimated value of the 358 is US$21.7 billion.

woodfired biomass in Europe

RED II binds EU Member States to achieve an EU-wide target of 32% energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030, and is a critical element in the EU’s overall goal to reduce carbon emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

The use of biomass for energy, primarily solid biomass burned for heat and power (wood, agricultural residues, and black liquor, a by-product of the pulp and paper industry), increased significantly in the EU from 1990 to 2016, particularly in the years leading up to and following the 2009 RED. By 2016, bioenergy constituted almost 65% of renewable energy inputs in the EU, nearly twice as much as all the other renewable energy sources combined. Solid biomass inputs increased 140% over the same period and constituted 45% of renewable energy inputs in 2016.

Although the lawsuit is likely to prove a largely symbolic gesture, it does potentially challenge the future of the burgeoning biomass power industry in the EU, with the potential to threaten the future of newbuild biomass CHP plants, as well as the growing trend towards converting existing coal-fired plants to using biomass – examples in AcuComm’s WasteView Project database include Selby (Drax), Tilbury, Ironbridge, Aarhus, Fredericia, Kalundborg, Hanasaari, Eemshaven and Linköping.

Written by Ian Taylor, Senior Editor & Research Consultant.

Currently Trending: CHP & Biofuel Plants

US$6,971 million worth of projects were covered by our researchers last week, including 20 new additions and 29 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 Facilities

Finland – WtE Plant

Construction of a €112 million WtE plant

Construction is expected to begin on a new waste-to-energy (WtE) plant in Salo towards the end of the month. Steinmüller Babcock Environment has been awarded the contract for the boiler plant.

The facility, located adjacent to the waste processing centre at Korvenmäki, will process up to 120,000 tonnes of municipal and commercial waste each year. It will produce 180-190 GWh of heat and a further 72 GWh of electricity.

Completion is scheduled for June 2021.

See more from this project.

UK – WtE Facility

Development of a 51 MW WtE facility

Wheelabrator has put forward proposals to develop a WtE facility at the A303 Enviropark near Andover, Hampshire; which will convert post-recycled waste into renewable baseload energy.

From the 450,000 tonnes of waste processed each year, the plant will produce enough energy to power over 110,000 homes.

Catch up on the latest from this project.

Finding concrete solutions

Construction and demolition waste is a mysterious area. Obtaining decent statistical information on household waste can be a struggle, but the problems are hugely multiplied in the C&D sector, where coherent definitions and record-keeping appear all but non-existent.

One thing does appear certain; construction projects generate a lot of waste material which is bulky and difficult to dispose of. In rapidly-developing economies such as China, the problem seems especially acute. A recent newspaper article highlighted the example of Shenzhen, a city built from near-scratch over the past three decades. If you have an old world atlas printed in the 1990s or earlier, take a look. Chances are, Shenzhen won’t even be marked (it’s next to Hong Kong). It now has a population over 12 million. That’s a lot of construction in a short time, and a lot of resultant waste. Simply sending it to landfill is a poor use of that resource, and there are growing environmental pressures for less– or even better, more intelligent – use of concrete and other building materials.

In China and many other developing economies, waste from construction seems, at best, to go into landfill or at worst is just dumped wherever it is least likely to be noticed. India is notable as an exception; a developing economy where attention is being paid to the C&D issue.

In developed economies, there is far more investment into recycling of C&D waste. This typically involves crushing and sorting materials into sand and aggregate for reuse in the building industry. There is also increasing effort into maximising the amount of material that can be reclaimed (see below). More can be done, however. As data gets better regarding the amount of C&D waste generated, the opportunities will become more apparent. Once again, here is a specialised and ‘difficult’ type of waste which can be seen as a commodity with value, rather than just a problem to be dealt with.

The AcuComm database currently lists 67 projects since 2013 dealing specifically with the recycling of C&D waste. These have a total estimated value of US$329 million, or around US$19 million each. The total estimated annual throughout is 12.9 million tonnes, equal to around 600 tonnes per day per facility on average.

These projects are in 17 different countries. The USA heads the list with 19 projects, followed by the UK with 13 and India with 11. Five other countries have more than one project listed since 2013: Australia, Canada, China, New Zealand and Spain.


One new facility in the field went into operation in January 2019 near Stockton On Tees, UK. This takes construction and excavation waste and converts it into high quality sand and aggregate for use in the building and construction industry.


The plant, operated by Scott Bros, is capable of processing between 50 and 70 tonnes of waste per hour to produce both coarse and fine sand, together with three grades of aggregate. Currently, some 20% of the wash plant’s output, a clay-based substance produced during the filtration process, cannot be recycled. One possible use being explored is that the material could be incorporated into the brick manufacturing process.

Written by Andy Crofts, AcuComm Chief Data Analyst.

ENGIE acquires biogas arm of Vol-V Group

In February 2019, ENGIE acquired the biogas arm of the Vol-V Group, confirming its position as the leading producer of biomethane in France.  With this acquisition, ENGIE now has a portfolio of close to 80 projects, thus reinforcing its ambition to produce a volume of 5 TWh per year of biomethane by 2030. To achieve this goal, ENGIE has committed to invest €800 million within five years and €2 billion by 2030 to develop its biogas portfolio.

Through industrialisation, ENGIE aims to reduce costs in the biogas sector by 30-40% by 2030 to achieve parity with natural gas. This ties in with the French Government’s introduction of the Energy Transition Law for Green Growth (La loi de Transition Énergétique pour la Croissance Verte – LTECV), which sets a target of 10% renewable gas being used in the national gas network by 2030.

Founded in 2009, the Vol-V Biomasse subsidiary now has seven biogas plants in operation, three units under construction and nine with authorisation to proceed. The Vol-V Group will now concentrate on its wind and solar activities.

Vol-V projects

Coverage of Vol-V in AcuComm’s WasteView Projects database.

Currently Trending: AD, WtE & Recycling Projects

US$3,375 million worth of projects were covered by our researchers last week, including 19 new additions and 27 updates.

The top waste trends included:

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

#Editor’sPick – AD & WtE Facilities

US – AD/Resource Recovery Facility

Development of a resource recovery and anaerobic digestion facility

On 7th February, an open house event was held at the Wasatch Resource Recovery (WRR) facility in North Salt Lake, UT, to mark the start of operations.

The facility has the capacity to process nearly 260,000 gallons of liquified organic waste and 330 tonnes of solid food waste each day. The waste is being used to produce renewable natural gas.

Find out more about this project.

India – WtE Facility

Development of a 5 MW WtE facility

Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Karnataka Power Corporation Limited have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a waste-to-energy (WtE) plant in Bidadi.

A tender has been issued for the design, build, operation and maintenance of the plant, of which the closing date is 29th March 2019. BBMP will supply 500 tonnes of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) to the plant each day.

Catch up with the full details of this project.