waste-to-energy Mixed_municipal_waste
In 2010, there were more than 600 waste-to-energy facilities in the world.

In Italy, the EU’s in-house Joint Research Centre (JRC), in a co-authored study on waste-to-energy, estimates electricity production from the total waste generated in Africa could reach 122.2TWh in 2025.

According to the study, ‘Evaluation of energy potential of Municipal Solid Waste from African urban areas’, which was released this month, waste management in most African countries is poor. However, these cities produced enough solid waste in 2012 to generate 1,125 petajoules worth of electricity.

By 2025, that number will be 2,199 petajoules, or 122.2TWh. This equates to 20% of the electricity consumed in Africa in 2010, enough electricity to power 40 million households, explained the JRC.

Waste-to-energy potential

However, the study adds that waste management in Africa is poor – the potential waste-to-energy electricity from waste actually collected was estimated at 83.8 TWh in 2025.

Besides providing an interesting share of gross energy consumption and electricity as a renewable resource, energy recovered from waste could also help minimise the impact of municipal solid waste on the environment.

The study from African urban areas provides an estimate of the total potential of energy from waste incineration and from landfill gas (LFG) 2025 for each African country.

Global use of waste

In 2010, there were more than 600 waste-to-energy facilities in the world, most of them in Europe (472), Japan (100) and the US (86).

In Africa, a very limited share of waste is recovered and reused, and only major or capital cities have waste management systems.

“Waste can have a very high contribution to providing electricity to citizens and alleviate energy poverty especially in countries with low access to electricity and reduced electricity consumption per capita, such as the Central African Republic, Burundi, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Somalia”, the JCR study said.