Why tackling waste incineration emissions needs CCS

Publish date: September 30, 2016

Waste to energy

Waste incineration and waste to energy has become a large source of CO2 emissions in Europe. EU-15 emissions from waste incineration is has grown to ~ 9,000 thousand tonnes CO2 per year. Offsetting these emissions by planting and preserving forest would be equivalent to 30,000 km2 of forest. This is about the same total area of Belgium with forest – just for EU waste incineration. Municipal waste incinerated is a mixture of wastes, in terms of sources of CO2 a distinction is drawn between CO2 of biogenic and CO2 of fossil origin. The proportion of CO2 assumed to be of fossil origin (e.g. plastics) and consequently to be considered as climate-relevant, is given as 33 to 50%. However, all CO2 no matter the source once in the atmosphere contributes to accelerating global warming. Learn more here and here

Reducing the amount of waste produced is the primary method to reduce CO2 emissions from this sector. The EU Circular Economy Strategy sets a common EU target for recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2030. The EU regards landfilling as the least preferable option and should be limited to the necessary minimum. A binding European target to reduce landfill to maximum of 10% of all waste by 2030. When waste cannot be prevented or recycled, waste to energy will remain the preferable option. The application of CO2 capture is the only route to deeply decarbonise these facilities. This will have the effect of decarbonising district heating and energy generated by waste to energy plants. Learn more here

Oslo, when a city aims to deeply decarbonise

Oslo the capital of Norway is a modern metropolitan city providing services to 660,000 people. The city of Oslo has a strategy to reduce CO2 emissions in line with meeting a global warming of 2o C. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2020 and by 95% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Learn more here

Oslo emissions breakdown

To make these cuts a reality the city of Oslo has to effect change on all CO2 sources within the city. This includes accelerating the ongoing increases of efficiency of buildings. Oslo is already a leader in the use of electro mobility, the electrification of transport will have to accelerate while the use of personal cars in the city centre will reduce. This will include the electrification of public transport, private transport and construction vehicles.

The waste incinerator of Klemetsrud on the outskirts of the city makes up ~20% of the cities total emissions and is its largest polluter. Emissions from this source must be dealt with if the city is to decarbonise. The city of Oslo and the national government plan to capture and store CO2 from the pant. Klemetsrud is currently testing technology and a full scale capture plant to be built in the early 2020’s will prevent 300,000 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere every year. This is equivalent to 1,000 km2 of forest, of more than twice that area of the city. Learn more here


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