Shanghai Municipal Incinerates, Converting Trash to Energy

Fresh off several conferences and meetings where discussions centered around smart grid, wind power, and other renewable energies, yesterday’s tour of the Shanghai Municipal Waste Facility proved to be a very interesting site visit. Operational for three years now, this facility (one of two facilities in Shanghai) incinerates about 1,500 tons of trash a day from five districts of Shanghai (Shanghai has a total of 19,000 tons of trash a day).

Built largely with foreign equipment, the facility has three boilers that provide the fuel to turn its 24MW turbines for a total of 1,400,000 kWh of energy, and the resulting fly ash is roughly around 20% by volume. Able to sell its energy to the grid for 0.5 RMB/kWh (a 0.09 RMB premium over coal) and able to generate a bit of a revenue from removing garbage out from the landfill, the facility is now turning a profit and on the way to paying back the original investment of 0.6 billion RMB.

While on the tour, it was clear to us that this facility was receiving special treatment, and that it was a case study that was being learned from. At one point, our host mentioned Shanghai’s goal of zero landfill waste by 2020, which means that more incinerators are going to be built although he only mentioned that Shanghai had only targeted 30% incineration.

Which leaves recycling, and biochemical solutions not currently in China.

One issue that I brought up was that if the incinerators were able to use the fly ash as part of their roadworks, then a real model for using waste streams would be built, and thus reducing the costs of several environmental issues that are faced by the waste and construction industry. The response I was given to the question was that in China this is not allowed and that the European standards were not high enough, pointing to an area for improvement…

Featured Image Credit: The Hindu

8 Responses to Shanghai Municipal Incinerates, Converting Trash to Energy

  1. Hi David.

    yes, and it was clear to me that a lot of effort went into the facility in this area (see my point about foreign equipment/ foreign managers).

    Now, how that ranks to the other 99.9% of facilities that are not located in Shanghai I could not say, but maybe sometime in the future I’ll have the opportunity to visit another facility in another city for comparison.


  2. This is awesome! When does Hong Kong get one?!

    Throughout the ’90’s my father worked at one of these plants in Commerce, CA. He said it created less emissions than a car. It took up 1 city block. I’d like to see these go up everywhere.
    BTW here’s a link about the dry-scrubbing for air cleaning of dioxins

    So happy to have found your site. I will pass it on to my friends at ecovision!

  3. Caryn.

    I would be surprised if HK has not considered this given the level of trash they have to deal with and as an island (perhaps I should say a city/state with limited land resources) they must see landfills as a hindrance.


  4. Have you checked out how close the incinerator is located to the nearest residential complex? Have you visited those people living close by? What did they say?

    It was said local residence posted more than once protests against pollution that this incinerator created. Check it out from local sources.

    Technology is one thing, operation of the technology and effective use of the technology with right hands and under right conditions are quite different human issues.

  5. Howard.

    no, I did not visit local residents, however to be honest I don’t remember seeing a residential building anywhere near the building. there were a few commercial buildings.

    As for the protests, yes, I have heard that there were protests and while we were at the facility they mentioned that their third phase was on hold do to the concerns expressed by citizens “in the area”.


  6. Caryn,

    as far as i know, hk has only one demo plant for energy-from-waste. the govt is planning a new plant and it’s under public consultation now.

    hk has been relying too much on landfill which is not a sustainable solution and very expensive to maintain. Shanghai’s goal of achieving zero landfill waste is the right direction, but i highly doubt if it would be possible, it’s a even more aggressive target than the european.

  7. Hallo!

    Greatings from Germany! I have made an informationpage about an german recycling- and waste- management- idea in german and english language (kryo- recycling). Pleace spread this infomation to all persons, you know, that many people get knowkedge about this idea and good alternatives to incineration.

    If you and others have some more or new information, pleace send the information to my adress. .

    Here is the link to my informationpage:

    With best Greatings, Felix Staratschek, Freiligrathstr. 2, D- 42477 Radevormwald

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