Long-term affected energy production of waste to energy technologies identified by use of energy system analysis

Marie Münster, Peter Meibom

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    Affected energy production is often decisive for the outcome of consequential life-cycle assessments when comparing the potential environmental impact of products or services. Affected energy production is however difficult to determine. In this article the future long-term affected energy production is identified by use of energy system analysis. The focus is on different uses of waste for energy production. The Waste-to-Energy technologies analysed include co-combustion of coal and waste, anaerobic digestion and thermal gasification. The analysis is based on optimization of both investments and production of electricity, district heating and bio-fuel in a future possible energy system in 2025 in the countries of the Northern European electricity market (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Germany). Scenarios with different CO2 quota costs are analysed. It is demonstrated that the waste incineration continues to treat the largest amount of waste. Investments in new waste incineration capacity may, however, be superseded by investments in new Waste-to-Energy technologies, particularly those utilising sorted fractions such as organic waste and refuse derived fuel. The changed use of waste proves to always affect a combination of technologies. What is affected varies among the different Waste-to-Energy technologies and is furthermore dependent on the CO2 quota costs and on the geographical scope. The necessity for investments in flexibility measures varies with the different technologies such as storage of heat and waste as well as expansion of district heating networks. Finally, inflexible technologies such as nuclear power plants are shown to be affected.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalWaste Management
    Issue number12
    Pages (from-to)2510-2519
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • Energy systems analysis
    • Systems analysis


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