In U.S., Waste-to-Energy Could Supply 12% of Electricity
In a new report out from the Earth Engineering Center (EEC) at Columbia University, it’s estimated that 12% of all U.S. electricity could potentially be supplied through waste-to-energy (WtE) programs. In order for this to occur, all municipal solid waste (MSW) the U.S. is currently putting into landfills would need to be converted via WtE plants.
The study claims this would have a huge effect on carbon emissions, reducing greenhouse gasses by 123 million tons per year—or the equivalent of taking more than 23 million cars off the road.
The report found that from 2008 to 2011, WtE increased, thus decreasing waste left to sit in landfills. An additional 18.5 million tons of MSW was recycled during that period and WtE facilities processed an extra 3.8 million tons.
The most commonly recycled material was plastics, representing nearly 11% of the WtE stream.
According to the report, the states currently the closest to achieving sustainable waste management are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Hampshire, in that order. These states combine effective recycling methods with high WtE conversion rates.
California, Florida, and Texas, are the three states with the highest amount of waste sent to landfills.
The report was sponsored by the American Chemistry Council and is based on data from 2011. Also important to note is the report’s assessment of WtE’s ability to replace coal.
“If MSW were to be used as a fuel in WTE power plants, it could replace all the coal imported by states such as New York, California, Idaho, New Jersey and Maine,” it reads. “Use of MSW fuel in place of coal could reduce the U.S. state-to-state transportation of coal by 22%.”
Perhaps most importantly, though, are the benefits for investors, the economy, and the environment. A push for expanded WtE efforts would be highly beneficial to the country, the report finds.
The full report can be found here.
Toyota unveils electric van and Volvo opens fuel cell lab
Toyota is launching its first zero emission battery electric vehicle, the Proace Electric medium-duty panel van, across Europe.
The model, which offers a choice of 50 or 75kWh lithium-ion batteries with range of up to 205 miles, is being rolled out in the UK, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
At present, alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs, including battery electric vehicles) account for only a fraction – around 1.8 per cent – of new light commercial van sales in the UK, but a number of factors are accelerating demand for practical alternatives to vans with conventional internal combustion engines.
Low and zero emission zones are coming into force to reduce local pollution and improve air quality in urban centres, at the same time as rapid growth in ecommerce is generating more day-to-day delivery traffic.
Meanwhile the opening of Volvo's first dedicated fuel cell test lab in Volvo Group, marks a significant milestone in the manufacturer’s ambition to be fossil-free by 2040.
Fuel cells work by combining hydrogen with oxygen, with the resulting chemical reaction producing electricity. The process is completely emission-free, with water vapour being the only by-product.
Toni Hagelberg, Head of Sustainable Power at Volvo CE, says fuel cell technology is a key enabler of sustainable solutions for heavier construction machines, and this investment provides another vital tool in its work to reach targets.
"The lab will also serve Volvo Group globally, as it’s the first to offer this kind of advanced testing," he said.
The Fuel Cell Test Lab is a demonstration of the same dedication to hydrogen fuel cell technology, as the recent launch of cell centric, a joint venture by Volvo Group and Daimler Truck to accelerate the development, production and commercialization of fuel cell solutions within long-haul trucking and beyond. Both form a key part of the Group’s overall ambition to be 100% fossil free by 2040.