Waste-to-energy plants not the right solution: experts

Waste-to-energy plants not the right solution: experts

A DH file photo of former minister Ramalinga Reddy inaugurating a waste-to-energy plant in Koramangala.

For citizens assailed by the pungent stench of rotting garbage at different areas, news that the government is keen on setting up six waste-to-energy plants would come as a welcome relief.

But like many of its efforts in the past, this one could fall through. Experts are sceptical that the waste-to-energy (WTE) plants is a good solution, especially considering the calorific value of the garbage generated.  

Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara announced last week that he would soon approve plans to create WTE plants in all the six solid waste processing units. "This would be the best solution for Bengaluru's garbage problem," he had said.

Experts believe that the city's garbage could be less in calorific value — the energy proportionate to the heat produced by burning the garbage. "The value should at least be 900KW to generate the required heat. But the waste in Bengaluru won't provide more than 800KW," said an expert.

Almitra Patel, member of the Supreme Court-appointed committee on solid waste management, said the calorific value remains low across the country, which makes WTEs unviable. "No viable model for WTE exists in the country. Also, the National Green Tribunal has ordered not to feed organic and recyclable waste into the WTE," she said.

Another criteria that might work against the WTE plants is segregation of dry and wet waste. "A proper waste segregation plan is a necessary pre-requisite for WTEs, especially for non-recyclable combustibles," Almitra added.

Shiva Prasad from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) said incinerating the waste would take 200 to 300KW. "The KSPCB (Karnataka State Pollution Control Board) will not give permission to plants that don't produce 900KW or below, since it harms the air quality by discharging pollutants," he said.

Solid waste management expert V Ramprasad said WTEs are not financially viable as well, given that the existing compost plants are mired in controversy.