Global value of EfW projects in 2016 totalled £117bn, reports AcuComm

Written by: AcuComm | Published:

AcuComm, a specialist in providing business Intelligence for global companies that sell into the waste, bioenergy and recycling markets, has published its Global Waste Investment: 2016 Review

Of the 1,598 projects reported on in 2016, 925 were newly-added during the year, equal to an average of 77 per month. The remaining 673 were status updates on projects reported on prior to 2016.

Key points from this report:

  • The total value of reported projects was US$149.4 bn (£117bn), equal to US$93m (£73m) each on average.
  • Total feedstock capacity in 2016 was 337.1 million tonnes, which is equal to 210,970 per project and 659 tonnes per day. Of this total, new projects accounted for 186.3 million tonnes, equal to 201,353 tonnes on average and 629 tonnes per day.
  • AcuComm estimates that around 66.3% of projects involved some form of electricity power generation, averaging 26MW each. For newly-reported projects in 2016, total estimated generation is 11,975MW, equal to 21MW on average.

Case study: Construction of the world's largest WtE facility in Shenzhen, China

Shenzhen Energy Group is to build the world's largest energy from waste (EfW) facility on a 267,000 square metre site in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province.

Located on the outskirts of Shenzhen, the Shenzhen East EfW plant is expected to incinerate up to 5,600 tonnes of waste per day (tpd), generating 550 million kWh per annum. The facility will be equipped with six 850 tpd waste incinerators and four 40MW turbine generators. In December 2015, Shenzhen Energy issued a tender for a feasibility study report and environmental impact assessment report.

On 4 February 2016, Gottlieb Paludan Architects and Schmidt Hammer Lassen announced that their design has been selected for the facility. The winning design organises the entire plant, including auxiliary buildings, into one circular building - breaking with the traditional rectangular layout of industrial facilities. The circular Shenzhen plant has been designed with sustainability in mind and will incorporate rooftop solar panels, a visitor education centre and an observation platform into its architectural design.

By proposing a clear circular form, the footprint of the plant is said to be minimised and it reduces the amount of excavation required to build on the site. The facility will have a 66,000 square metre roof which will be covered by up to 44,000 square metres of photovoltaic panels, providing the opportunity for the plant to not only provide a cleaner way to deal with the city’s waste, but also contribute to the renewable energy provision for the city. Detailed design work began in early 2016.

On 29 November 2016, Babcock & Wilcox announced that its subsidiary, Babcock & Wilcox Vølund (B&W Vølund), was awarded a contract for nearly US$40m to design a WtE boiler by Shenzhen Energy Environmental Engineering. B&W Vølund will supply equipment, including a Dynagrate combustion grate system, hydraulics, burners and other boiler components for the 168MW plant. B&W Vølund will also provide construction advisors for the combined heat and power project.

The total investment in the project is estimated at 450m Chinese Yuan Renminbi (£51m). The plant is scheduled to begin commercial operation in mid-2019.

With a population of 20 million Shenzhen produces 15,000 tonnes of waste a day, a figure that is reported to be increasing by approximately 7% each year.

Project reporting in 2016 by feedstock type

General municipal solid waste was the leading feedstock type in 2016. This accounted for 488 of the 1,598 projects, equal to 31.2% of the total. These projects had an estimated value of US$54.8bn (£35bn), equal to US$112m (£88m) on average. They represented waste capacity of 151.8 million tonnes, equal to 45% of the total capacity for the year. This is equal to 311,005 per project on average, and 972 tonnes per day per project. The largest, as detailed above, is a major planned facility to the east of Shenzhen in China, which has a designed capacity of 5,600 tonnes per day and is due to enter service in 2019. An estimated 281MSW projects involved power generation, at 9,195MW in total. This equals 33MW per project on average.

The second principal feedstock type is wood. This represents either waste wood materials or specially-grown wood. It is principally used in biomass boilers and power plants. There were 268 projects in 2016 which principally used wood as a feedstock, These had an estimated value of US$32.5bn (£25bn), equal to US$121m (£95m) on average. They represented capacity of 60.1 million tonnes, equal to 224,349 tonnes each on average, and 701 tonnes per day per project. Almost all wood-based projects involve power generation (258), totalling an estimated 8,355MW or 32MW per project on average.

The third most significant feedstock is general plant-based biomass, other than wood. There were 177 of these in 2016, with an estimated value of US$17.3bn (£13bn), equal to US$98m (£77m) each on average. The estimated feedstock capacity was 30.5 million tonnes, equal to 172,284 tonnes each on average, and 538 tonnes per day per project. Almost all of these projects (161) involved power generation, estimated at 4,8 58MW or 30MW each.

Project reporting in 2016 by technology type

The leading technology type in 2016 was reported to be incineration involving energy recovery (energy from waste incineration). There were 512 such projects during the year, worth an estimated US$69.8bn (£54bn) in total. This is equal to 46.7% of the total value of projects in 2016, and an average of US$136m (£107m) per project. These projects have an estimated capacity of 158.6 million tonnes, equal to 309,792 tonnes each on average and 968 tonnes per day per project. Total estimated power generation from these projects is 20,793MW, equal to 42MW each on average. There were a further 52 integrated/mixed facilities which generally involve an element of EfW incineration, and a handful of incineration facilities not involving power generation. The latter tend to concentrate on specialist waste types such as clinical or other hazardous materials.

In second place was anaerobic digestion/biogas facilities. AcuComm reported on 281 of these in 2016, with a total estimated value of US$9.2bn (£7bn), or US$33m (£26m) each on average; these facilities tend to be smaller than most other waste plant types. Total feedstock capacity was estimated at 24.9 million tonnes, equal to 88,697 tonnes each and 277 tonnes per day per plant. Likewise, while most such plants generate power, this is relatively small-scale at 808MW, equal to 3MW per plant on average.

In third place was waste recycling facilities. AcuComm reported on 243 of these during the year, worth an estimated US$8.1bn (£6bn), equal to US$33m (£26m) on average. The estimated capacity of these projects was 26.6 million tonnes, equal to 109.445 tonnes each and 342 tonnes per day per facility. Only a handful of recycling facilities involve any form of power generation.

Other leading facility tech types include biofuel plants (157, worth US$16.2bn or £12bn), and waste processing facilities (136, worth US$18.2bn or £14bn).


AcuComm estimates that 472 of the projects reported on in 2016 are fully operational, as of January 2017. These have a combined value of US$29.1bn (£22m), estimated capacity of 70.5 million tonnes and power generation of 4,936MW. A further 402 projects are currently under construction and are generally larger, therefore taking longer to complete. Meanwhile, 219 projects are in various stages of planning, although not all will come to fruition.

Approximately 355 of projects not yet operational will get under way this year, with a further 168 to do so in 2018.

To access the report, click here

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