In recent years there has been a lot of discussion on the best ways to sustainably manage growing amounts of waste. With the average European in 2015 generating 476 kg of municipal waste, nearly 62M tonnes of waste ended up in a landfill. Landfills not only pose environmental risks, but they also take a great amount of space and lock in resources that could otherwise be recycled or treated in waste-to-energy plants.
Although Switzerland is not an EU member state, it has been a front runner in European waste management in the last years with their new plant in Lucerne proving how innovative waste-to-energy technologies can be.
It lit its first fire back in January 2015 and has the capacity to treat 220.000 tonnes of municipal waste per year–enough to cover the electricity demand of approximately 38.000 households. The plant is built next to a highway in direct proximity to a paper factory and district heating connection point. This allows for minimal traffic noise (the traffic across residential areas can be completely avoided) and maximum export of steam and heat are ensured. The plant’s efficiency is high, up to 70%, as it delivers steam straight to the neighbouring paper mill through an integrated supply network. Further heat is distributed to the entire region of Rontal via a district heating network.
Thanks to the Renergia plant, PEPA (the paper mill) is reducing its heating oil consumption by 40 million litres annually and is lowering its CO2 emissions by 90.000 tonnes. Steam is a highly valuable product for the paper industry which is used to either dry the incoming sorted paper or to boil the paper mix in order to make paper paste, the very first step in paper manufacturing.
More detailed information could be found on Renergia plant: www.renergia.ch/factsheet