Electricity and combined heat and power from municipal solid waste : theoretically optimal investment decision time and emissions trading implications

Tolis, Athanasios and Rentizelas, Athanasios and Aravossis, Konstantin and Tatsiopoulos, Ilias (2010) Electricity and combined heat and power from municipal solid waste : theoretically optimal investment decision time and emissions trading implications. Waste Management and Research, 28 (11). pp. 985-995. ISSN 0734-242X

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    Abstract

    Waste management has become a great social concern for modern societies. Landfill emissions have been identified among the major contributors of global warming and climate changes with significant impact in national economies. The energy industry constitutes an additional greenhouse gas emitter, while at the same time it is characterized by significant costs and uncertain fuel prices. The above implications have triggered different policies and measures worldwide to address the management of municipal solid wastes on the one hand and the impacts from energy production on the other. Emerging methods of energy recovery from waste may address both concerns simultaneously. In this work a comparative study of co-generation investments based on municipal solid waste is presented, focusing on the evolution of their economical performance over time. A real-options algorithm has been adopted investigating different options of energy recovery from waste: incineration, gasification and landfill biogas exploitation. The financial contributors are identified and the impact of greenhouse gas trading is analysed in terms of financial yields, considering landfilling as the baseline scenario. The results indicate an advantage of combined heat and power over solely electricity production. Gasification, has failed in some European installations. Incineration on the other hand, proves to be more attractive than the competing alternatives, mainly due to its higher power production efficiency, lower investment costs and lower emission rates. Although these characteristics may not drastically change over time, either immediate or irreversible investment decisions might be reconsidered under the current selling prices of heat, power and CO2 allowances.