The role of energy recovery from wastes in the decarbonization efforts of the EU power sector

Over the last few years, global energy demand has risen, and this trend is expected to continue. Almost all European Union (EU) countries are suffering from a shortage of energy services. Annually, EU fossil fuel energy production falls; for example, in 2014, gas production fell by 11.2% compared to 2013. Energy imports, especially natural gas, have increased as a result of lower energy output. The EU is still heavily reliant on fossil fuel imports (oil and gas), and the cost of EU energy imports in 2017 increased by 26% (€266 billion).

by Constantinos S. Psomopoulos, Kyriaki Kiskira, Konstantinos Kalkanis, Helen C. Leligou, Nickolas J. Themelis,

Wastes contain large quantities of energy that can be extracted using a variety of methods. European Union has established a waste-to-energy initiative to minimize waste and increase recovery. Τhe EU Landfill Directive promotes more environmental friendly waste management options. Accordingly, EU member states are adopting mechanical-biological treatment processes, bio-methanization and waste-derived fuels. Furthermore, EU is energy-dependent, as its resources are insufficient to meet rising energy demands, and fossil fuels must be imported in large quantities. Wastes are increasingly produced and have a non-negligible lower calorific value that are considered as a power source. Findings highlight the role of waste-to-energy facilities in meeting a portion of the European Union's energy needs and contributing to the achievement of renewable energy targets. The untapped potential, through specific actions, can increase capacity in EU without threatening the goals for recycling. This work presents the current status of energy recovery in EU and investigates the unutilized potential energy recovery from wastes, considering the currently landfilled quantities. The results showed that even in the worst scenario, the energy recovery and the renewable content are too high to be neglected, supporting the decarbonization efforts and enhance circular economy, in line with EU’s Energy Strategy and Paris agreement.

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published: IET Renewable Power Generation, 10|2021
Keywords: Energy Recovery, Mixed Waste, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden