Brazil’s 28 metropolitan regions with over 1 mn people could generate 18,9 TWh/y through urban solid waste-to-energy (WTE) plants requiring US$14bn, according to a study produced by local waste-to-energy association ABREN and shared with BNamericas.
The amount, which represents around 3% of the country’s electric power demand, could be generated via 118 20MW (or 59 40MW) plants fed by 97,000t/d of urban waste.
The largest potential identified by ABREN is in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro’s metropolitan regions, which could generate 3.719TW/y and 2.829TWh/y, respectively. Next comes the federal district of Brasília with 1.089TWh/y.
Currently there 183MW of WTE projects under development in Brazil: the 20MW, 825t/d mass burning URE Barueri plant, which has already been granted an installation license; the 80MW, 3,000t/d URE Mauá plant with a preliminary license; the 38MW, 2,000t/d URE Baixada Santista plant; the 30MW, 1,300t/d Ciclus/Rio de Janeiro plant, also with a preliminary license; and the 15MW, 500t/d Diadema plant with Outotec gasification.
Last December, Brazil’s government approved the country’s first urban solid waste tender for energy production, which is planned for this year. The approval is a key step for making WTE projects feasible in the country.
According to ABREN president Yuri Schmitke, the country has the potential for 250 plants, each with 20MW installed capacity, representing a 160bn-real (US$30bn) investment.
However, to make these projects economically feasible ABREN estimates that local landfill fees would have to be increased by 11 reais/t of urban solid waste yearly while the WTE energy tariff would be required to fall to 250 reais/MWh from the current 620 reais/MWh by 2040.
This could be achieved with the use of electric garbage trucks and buses fueled by the energy generated at the WTE plants. Since a single concessionaire would be responsible for the generation of energy and the transportation services, the company would be categorized as an energy self-producer, thus exempted from the ICMS (service) tax, for example.
“The WTE must be paid by the municipalities, not the electric power sector. We are working for this to happen”, Schmitke told BNamericas.
On Wednesday, São Paulo’s research support foundation Fapesp and environment department signed a protocol to foster the deployment of WTE projects in the state.
During the ceremony, the infrastructure and environment secretary, Marcos Rodrigues Penido, highlighted that urban waste is connected to both the basic sanitation and energy agendas.
“The waste that could be used to generate energy in São Paulo is whopping”, he said.