EghtesadOnline: Construction of a waste-to-energy plant will start soon in the northern Talesh County, Gilan Province, said the project manager of Biomass Energy Technologies Development at Niroo Research Institute, affiliated to the Energy Ministry.
“The plant is designed to process 250 tons of waste per day. It will convert waste in the county into energy using anaerobic digestion technology,” Bargh News quoted Mehdi Rezaei as saying.
It will minimize the burial of waste, help protect the environment, create jobs, produce biogas, electricity, heat and fertilizers, he said, elaborating on the cost and timeline of the project.
A waste-to-energy plant converts municipal and industrial solid waste into electricity and/or heat for industrial processing and for district heating systems – an ecologically sound, cost-effective means of energy recovery.
Anaerobic digestion is one of the most effective and environment-friendly waste management techniques. It not only treats the organic fraction of municipal solid waste, but is considered as one of the potent renewable energy sources due to generation of methane during the digestion process.
Through the anaerobic digestion, bacteria breaks down organic matter—such as manure—without oxygen. As the bacteria “work,” they generate biogas, which is made mostly of methane, the primary component of natural gas.
Biogas can be burned directly in a gas boiler to produce heat or burnt in a combined heat and power unit to produce heat and electricity. Alternatively, the biogas can be cleaned to remove the carbon dioxide and other substances, to produce biomethane.
The energy potential is significant. As just one example, with 100 tons of food waste per day, anaerobic digestion can generate enough energy to power 800 to 1,400 homes each year. Fat, oil, and grease collected from the food service industry can also be added to an anaerobic digester to increase biogas production.
Blessing in Disguise
According to Rezaei, machinery and equipment for the plant is being manufactured by domestic companies -- a blessing in disguise -- because big international manufactures refuse to deal with Tehran due to the tough US economic sanctions.
Annually, 21 million tons of household waste, 32 million tons industrial waste, 8 million tons of hazardous waste and 170,000 tons of medical waste are produced in the country
Incinerating a ton of waste can produce 500-600 kilowatts of electricity per hour.
Iran is taking slow but steady steps to expand WTE facilities. Six waste-to-energy plants operate in Tehran, Shiraz, Noshahr and Mashhad, and plans are underway to increase such facilities, following the government’s will to substitute fossil-fuel power generation with cleaner and environmentally-friendly methods. WTE plants generate 11 megawatts of electricity per day.
Burning garbage helps avoid water and soil contamination. According to studies, an incineration plant with 1 MW capacity can reduce carbon emission by 50,000 tons per year, whereas a wind plant with the same capacity can reduce the same emission by 5,000 tons at the most.
Most garbage in Iran is traditionally buried in landfills. But as the population grows so does the mountain of waste.
Iran needs more incineration plants to help manage waste and prevent the expansion of landfills. By burning garbage, contamination of water and soil through leachate — generated from decomposition of garbage — can be avoided.