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Conversion of Waste to Energy

Conversionof Waste to Energy



Inrecent times, energy production is crucial in discussions relating tosustainable development. Moreover, sustainable development requires acontinuous supply of clean and inexpensive renewable sources ofenergy that do not cause adverse impacts to the environment. Humanactivities most often result in the production of waste materials.The higher the production, the more intricate, and diverse the wasteproduced, which present a challenge for the waste management toachieve their goals of protecting the communities and the environmentwhile conserving the resources.

Whendebating on waste to energy as a tool to reduce environmental hazardcaused by the waste materials, communities, businesses, andgovernment must put into consideration challenges and benefitsassociated with waste to energy and compare it to the availablealternatives if any. This paper will explore the existing andpotential environmental hazards brought about by Biomass waste, theways through which the hazard can be solved and the estimated costsof waste to energy conversion.

Conversionof Waste to Energy


Wastesarise because of human activity. Due to the advancement in technologyand increase in social activities more waste is realized globally asindividuals and organizations are taking advantage of technology inexploring new ideas or new products which in the long run poses athreat the land, air or people health statuses. Biomass energy isderived from wood and its derivatives, waste from agricultural,animal, urban and industrials and their by-products. Biomass fuelhelps in reducing the presence of carbon dioxide in the air, which isdepleting the ozone causing adverse changes in the climate.

Wastemanagement involves gathering, transportation, processing, orclearance, administration, and monitoring of waste resourcesirrespective of whether they are liquid, solid, or in gas form, orradioactive. The term waste refers to resources produced by humanbeing activities, and the purpose of the process of waste managementis to reduce the effect of waste materials on the health ofindividuals, and the surroundings. The method of dealing with wastematerials differs in industrialized and non-industrialized nations,for metropolitan and rural areas and home and manufacturingcompanies.

EnvironmentalImpact (actual or potential)

Colossalheaps of garbage is evident in today’s industrial, urban and ruralareas. These heaps of garbage pose threats both to the environmentand individuals residing near them. There is the presence of airpollution and health hazard to the residents. The main relevance ofenvironmental influence of Biomass energy is the reducing the use offossil fuel while reducing acid rain and air pollution, which isbecause of the depleted ozone layer due to the high Carbon Dioxide(CO2) presence (BiomassEnergy Operations Impacts,2016).Thus, Biomass recycles the atmospheric Carbon dioxide (CO2) (Biomass2013). However, the process of recycling should control to make surethat the quantity of CO2 removed from the air by the photosynthesisof biomass is not a lesser amount of CO2 produced during incinerationand energy creation as this can cause a negative environmental impactby reducing the CO2 fixation capacity on earth (Enermedproject,2016).

Notably,the woody feedstock is crucial in the biomass process. Therefore,clear cutting of trees can lead to deforestation, which would have anegative environmental impact, as the US would experience massivesoil erosion, consequently, to other parts of the globe, thatpractices clear cutting (McPhail, Cigolotti, &amp Moreno, 2012).Additionally, use of biomass diverts the dumping of the wastematerials in landfills which poses a health hazard and waterpollution. Transporting of the biomass waste material has a lot ofnoise and emissions, which causes noise and air pollution.Additionally, potential problems can arise in areas where water is achallenge since a lot of water is required for the production ofbiomass energy.

Howwas the Problem Solved or how it could be Solved

Toreduce the enormous heaps of garbage evident in rural and urbanareas, the government, businesses, and communities should introducethe incinerators to burn the non-disposable waste materials whileadding recycling method biomass (waste) energy to create anenvironment free of waste materials, air, land, and water pollution.Waste collectors should separate biodegradable and non-biodegradablematerials to make the process easy. To solve deforestation problemand farming of biomass crop on ecosystems and habitat, the governmentshould form an environmental impact assessment committee whose dutyis to monitor and control forestry and cropping (Enermedproject,2016).

Additionally,regulations should be put in place whereby by business and localauthorities participate in waste collection and disposal. This, inturn, helps in developing a circular economy by creating a betterbalance through waste designing and adopting “polluter pays”policy, which means those who produce waste, must contribute to thecost of disposing of it. Additionally, to produce more Biomass(waste) energy, they should the option planting energy crops onmarginal land (Liu et al., 2011).

Strengthand Weakness of adopted/Recommended Methods

SWOTanalysis is a strategy tool used to pinpoint strengths andweaknesses, opportunities and threats in a project and it assists inthe decision-making process. Thus, in adopting any form of energy, itis imperative to take into consideration their strengths andweaknesses. The above methods of solving the environmental hazardscaused by the use of biomass (waste) energy have both strengths andweaknesses (Enermedproject, 2016). The strength emanating from theuse of biomass energy accrues to marginal land and development ofrural economy.

Notably,planting energy crops on marginal lands will create jobs to thecommunities and increase their incomes while planting ofmulti-purpose tree improves the economy status of the rural areas(Liu et al., 2011). In light of waste collection, there is jobcreation to the trash collectors and biomass energy provides energyresource security. Using biomass (waste) energy reduces the use ofincineration, as materials that would have otherwise been burntcausing air pollution are recycled.

Biomass(waste) energy weaknesses include economic viability, environmentalimpact, and equity. Use of marginal land in planting energy crop willresult in high cost of production as most marginal lands are far fromthe market. Thus, additional means of transport are adopted. Inaddition, due to the dormancy of marginal land, biomass yield on thisland will be lower in comparison to agricultural land resulting inhigher cost of investment. Therefore, low productivity and increasedcost of production will inhibit economic viability (Liu et al.,2011).

EstimatedCost or Hypothetical Cost

Biomassenergy production requires capital and labor investment. Hypotheticalcost of biomass production (Australian Energy Market Operator, 2013),

Electricity generation technology


Scenario 1


2012 (NSW)




























Thecost of technology such as on-shore wind and biomass is expected toreduce at a lower rate than developing technologies such as CST.


Dueto the increasing growth in population and economic development,there is an increase in demand for renewable sources of energy andthe amount of biomass waste energy globally, especially in the USwhile providing a continuous means of waste management. However,incineration and landfills are not sustainable means of wastemanagement. Thus, it is imperative for the government to adoptbiomass (waste) energy in the provision of green energy and wastemanagement as it has more strength as opposed to weaknesses.


Australian energy marketoperator. (2013).100 per cent renewable study – modeling outcomes.Retrieved fromhttps://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/publications/aemo-modelling-outcomes/

Biomass energy operationsimpacts. (2016).Teeic.indianaffairs.gov.Retrieved 28 November 2016, fromhttp://teeic.indianaffairs.gov/er/biomass/impact/op/index.htmL

Enermedproject. (2016). Biomass.Retrieved, fromhttp://www.enermedproject.eu/en/icon-display-biomass.html/

Liu, T.,McConkey, B., Ma, Z., Liu, Z., Li, X., &amp Cheng, L. (2011).Strengths,Weaknesses’, Opportunities and Threats Analysis of Bio-energyProduction on Marginal Land.Energy Procedia5,2378-2386. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.egypro.2011.03.409/

McPhail, S., Cigolotti, V., &ampMoreno, A. (2012). Fuelcells in the waste-to-energy chain(1st ed., pp. 26-30). London: Springer