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What is holding back waste-to-energy developments in Australia? Chani Lokuge*

Just what are the obstacles preventing Australia from joining the global waste-to-energy market, and how can they be overcome?

I

n 2009, I co-authored an

commence construction. When a brief look

article on the potential

at the global WtE market suggests continued

benefits of introducing

growth, it begs the question: what is holding

commercial-scale, best

back WtE in Australia?

practice waste-to-energy (WtE) facilities into Aus-

The global WtE market, valued at US$24

the federal government’s Renewable Energy

billion in 2012, is expected to reach US$37.6

Target (RET) and the growing adoption of

billion by 2020 (Grand View Research 2015),

energy-from-waste initiatives overseas, I had

growth being driven by decreasing landfill

high hopes that two or more commercial-

area and the continued movement away

scale WtE plants would shortly be developed

from fossil fuels. In Europe, WtE adop-

in Australia. Seven years later, however,

tion continues to grow on the back of EU

there remain no commercial-scale WtE plants

Waste Legislation, which promotes diversion

processing municipal solid waste (MSW) in

from landfill, and the adoption by Germany,

Australia, despite the demonstrated benefits

Austria and Netherlands of WtE technolo-

of such facilities.

gies that sustainably generate energy from

While some innovative private firms

28 Sustainability Matters - Jun/Jul 2016

The global WtE market

tralia. At the time, following an increase of

industrial waste.

working closely with progressive state and

In the Asia–Pacific region, meanwhile,

local government authorities and commu-

Japan is currently the key market, with

nities — particularly in Western Australia

around 60% of generated solid waste sent to

— have progressed through the planning

WtE facilities. Continued industrialisation in

process for commercial-scale gasification

China and India means these countries are

and combustion facilities, none are yet to

expected to account for major future WtE

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Sustainability Matters Jun/Jul 2016  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...

Sustainability Matters Jun/Jul 2016  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...