The world-wide waste to energy (wte) market remains at an all-time high. According to the most recent update of the market research firm Ecoprog's wte market survey, the number of wte plants in operation has continued to rise in recent years.
According to the study, 128 new plants were slated to go into operation in 2015 and 2016. The annual capacity of the market was expected to rise by around 31 million tonnes. Most of the added capacity could be attributed to new plants, but the capacity of some existing plants was also expanded. More than ever before, the growth in capacity was concentrated within Asia, according to Ecoprog.
The market research group put the number of wte plants in operation worldwide at the end of 2015 at just under 2,150. All told, their processing capacity exceeded 300 million tonnes per year. With an average of 15 million tonnes of net capacity added to the market each year, incineration capacity stands at a record high, according to the report.
Strongest growth in Asia
At the same time, the differences in the geographic distribution are growing. In Asia, the average annual increase in capacity scheduled to go online during 2015 and 2016 stands at somewhere between 12-13 million tonnes. This average annual capacity increase had stabilised at a high level in the period since 2010. As recently as 2007, the figure had stood at less than 4 million tonnes per year. According to Ecoprog, between 2011 and 2015 more than 150 wte plants with a capacity of more than 50 million tonnes per year were installed.
Asia will continue to dominate the wte market in the coming years, Ecoprog predicts. The end of the Chinese wte boom is not yet in sight, as the targets of the previous five-year plan were not met. At the same time, the Asian market is diversifying. In recent months, plans for emerging countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines were being solidified, according to Ecoprog.
Signs for recovery in Europe
However, the company also sees signs of a recovery on the European market. Various wte projects continue to be launched in the UK, but the number of projects in Southern and Eastern Europe had also increased. In Italy, the government recently decided to proceed with the planning of eight new plants. In France, more projects for refuse-derived fuel (RDF) power plants were being developed and in Poland, additional wte projects were being prepared with an eye to securing EU financing.
In Asia, the wte market is being stimulated by increasing waste volumes, the scarcity of space as well as the desire for greater energy self-sufficiency. In Europe, EU waste policy remains the most important driver. Altogether, Ecoprog expects some 600 new incineration plants with a combined treatment capacity of over 170 million tonnes per year to be built over the course of the next decade.
The full market report "Waste to Energy 2016/2017" can be ordered for €2,900 excluding VAT on Ecoprog's website.