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

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