The global waste to energy (WtE) market size was USD 25.0 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach USD 43.96 billion by 2024. Market is expected to witness a steady growth on account of increasing waste generation activities. Waste to energy (WtE) technologies consists of waste management to produce electricity or transport fuel. This technology finds the application on various types of unwanted materials including semi-solid, liquid and gaseous waste.
The most popular application is municipal solid waste (MSW) processing followed by industrial remains. The main drivers expected to impact overall market growth includes increasing waste generation activities by industries coupled with high energy costs. Restricted land filling and growing environmental issues are also expected to further enhance global industry demand over the forecast period. WtE is expected to solve the environmental problems related to waste by reducing the volume and decreasing the greenhouse gas emissions.
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Moreover, government initiatives especially by European governments have significantly contributed to the regional WtE industry growth in the recent years. Economic development, industrialisation, and public habits have given rise to the generation of tremendous left overs and, therefore, driving the overall market.
As of 2015, more than 50% of the global population live in urban areas and, therefore, accelerating municipal solid waste accumulation. Garbage has been a worrying cause for local governing bodies mainly in developing areas. Favourable government policies coupled with financial aid are expected to positively influence the industry in near future. Government institutions have been supporting the growth by giving relaxation on taxes as well as providing incentives.
Further, growing recycling industry in developed markets including the U.S., Japan, and Germany is expected to significantly contribute the overall growth. Some companies have in-house established WtE as a part of their corporate social responsibility. General Motors and Detroit Renewable energy collaborated to establish an energy project which converts approximately one million tons annually. The project provides around 15.8 megawatts of renewable energy to General Motors.
A study by world bank in 2012 found out that global MSW is approximately 1.3 billion tonnes per year with high percentage share belonging North America and Asia Pacific. These MSW contain paper, organics, plastics, metals, and glasses. WtE technologies are capable of converting these wastes into various valuable energy forms. Local and national grid systems can be used to distribute power generated from these wastes. Heat can be generated and transported for district heating and thermodynamic purposes. Some biofuels variants can be obtained from organic wastes and sold in markets after refining. High costs associated with WtE establishment is expected to act as a barrier for global market over the forecast period.
Initial investment costs play a crucial role on account of large facility size and installed components. Maintenance and operational costs have a lower impact on the total expenses. Cost effective traditional dumping method which include landfill sites creation is expected to hamper the rapid growth over the forecast period.
A standard incineration unit is capable of processing 10300 tons of waste per day. It costs around USD 30 million to USD 180 million to construct such a unit while a traditional landfill costs around USD 5 million to USD 10 million. Latest technologies use provides great opportunities to the global industry. Recent trends show most common technique used is incineration process. Earlier this market was dominated by public sector organisations. Looking at the industry growth, many private players have entered the global market. Segmentation is based on technology type used which include thermo-chemical, bio-chemical and chemical conversion.
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The thermo-chemical process is a technique in which energy content from sources is extracted using thermal treatment of high temperatures. Bio-chemical conversion deals with energy extraction from sources using bio-decomposition. Chemical conversion deals with various chemicals usage for obtaining bio fuels. North America dominated the market in terms of overall demand and is expected to maintain its position over the forecast period on account of increasing lifestyle and rise in urban areas.
The European market is expected to show a high growth on account of European Union initiatives to reduce the number of landfills by implementing WtE. Regional demand is followed by Asia Pacific and is expected to develop at the highest rate over the forecast period on account of increasing population and better-living standard. Consumer awareness coupled with rising environmental concerns are expected to significant contribute towards regional industry growth in the future. South America and Africa are expected to witness a slow growth on account of lack of technology and implementation of waste eradication traditional methods.
Key players in the global market include C&G Environmental Protection Holdings Ltd, Foster Wheeler A.G., Waste Management Inc., Veolia Environment, Suez Environment S.A., The Babcock & Wilcox Co and KEPPEL SEGHERS. It is observed that players operating in this industry are conglomerates with diverse business operations. The advantage of big players in raising the necessary finances are their capability to show patience in case of earning early profits.
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