Chinese megacity will build enormous waste-to-energy conversion plant

One of the largest cities in China is about to make a dramatic investment in a project that could wind up inspiring other urban areas around the world to help solve two problems: Eliminating waste and creating much-needed energy.

According to the World Economic Forum, the city of  Shenzhen in southern China is about to build the world’s largest waste-t0-energy conversion plant, which will process 5,000 tons of waste each day when operational:

“With a population of 20 million people, the city produces a lot of waste: about 15,000 tonnes daily according to SHL Architects, which will be used by the plant to generate electricity.

“Part of the attraction of waste-to-energy technology is that it’s a dual-purpose solution – it rids urban areas of their growing waste problem, while generating electricity as a byproduct.”

The concept of converting waste to energy isn’t new, but it has never been done on a scale the size of what’s about to be attempted in Shenzhen. Here’s how it works:

“The process captures heat from incinerating unwanted waste materials, which drives a turbine to generate electricity. Burning waste releases harmful CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, but according to the architects, at half the level of an average landfill site – where much of Shenzhen’s waste ends up.”

Less landfill waste, more usable energy. That’s a win-win for everyone.

China is certainly in need of ways to help eliminate their waste. The country generates more waste products than any other on the planet. But other countries face the same challenges when it comes to finding ways to manage waste.

And the waste-to-energy market is booming. It’s estimated that the global market for such technology will reach $40 billion annually by 2023.

“While the new plant offers an alternative to the city’s overloaded landfill sites and makeshift waste dumps, its green credentials have been called into question. A residents’ group which fears that landfill waste ash and airborne pollutants from the incinerator will end up in a nearby reservoir has launched a legal challenge to force the site to be relocated to a less densely populated area.”

Also, the Shenzhen plant won’t totally solve the larger problem of waste in the city, as the new plant will only have the capacity to process about a third of the garbage produced by the city and the amount of waste in Shenzhen is increasing by seven percent a year.

Imagine a day when every large city in the world converts large portions of their waste to energy. Such a plan could well prove to be an economic boom as well as helping to protect the environment. Only time will tell.


Here’s more on the Shenhzen plant:


Featured Image Via SHL Architects 


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Andrew Bradford

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