Saturday, August 23, 2008

Waste disposal

This is one of the major environmental challenges being faced by many cities in India. Most of the cities don’t have adequate facilities for waste collection, transportation and disposal. Existing landfills are full beyond capacity. As a result, more than three-fourths of solid waste being generated in the city is not disposed off in a hygienic manner. It is being left to rot in open sites, burnt in dump sites, or finds its way to the sewers. All these lead to serious environmental problems. It is high time the municipal corporations, state governments, and policy makers take up the matter seriously.

In the recent years, the waste-to-energy project has gained attention due to its double benefits of solving environmental pollution due to waste disposal and extracting energy from waste.

“On an average, every day about 3,000 tonnes of solid waste is being generated in Bangalore. About half is biodegradable waste, which is a potential source of energy and also nitrogen rich manure. It has been estimated that more than 30MW of energy could be produced from the biodegradable waste being generated in the city,” says Ramakumar.

“The total bio-energy potential in the country is estimated to be 16,000 MWe and the current installation is only about 1,252 Mw considering all forms of biomass conversion process of which the leading contribution is from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Chattisgarh. The share of gasification and methanation process in terms of installation is 248 MWe.”

There is a huge opportunity in this stream since a vast potential of resources are lying unused in the country. With the State utilities obligated to meet the renewable purchase obligation varying from 3-10 percent of the power generated, bio-energy could be a pragmatic solution for an agrarian economy like ours.

“The key driver for growth would be an initiative by the utilities to map local resources and streamline logistics to ensure efficient and continuous long-term supply. This, along with social awareness programmes in partnership with technology providers across the country, would lead to a bio-energy revolution”, says Ramakumar.

With new and improved technologies for biomass-based energy and thermal generation which are cost-effective and keep a check on the pollution issues, this sector needs to be addressed with the right framework plan and a collaborative approach.

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