Material and Energy valorisation of waste in a Circular Economy

Task 36 has participated in the IEA Bioenergy Conference 2021


IEA Task 36 and Waste & Residue valorisation in a circular economy

IEA Bioenergy organized and participated in the session Waste & Residue valorisation in a circular economy at the IEA Bioenergy Conference 2021, where examples of promising waste-to-energy systems and conversion routes were presented.

The IEA Bioenergy Conference 2021 – a critical part of the path to carbon neutrality was held online between the 29th of November and the 9th of December and the central theme of the conference was the role of biomass in the transition towards a carbon neutral society.

IEA Bioenergy Task 36 had a significant contribution in the session “Waste and residue valorisation in a circular economy” hold on the 6th of December and focused on the role of bioenergy from waste and residues in a circular economy through examples of modern waste-to-energy systems and future promising conversion routes such as gasification. Task 36 leader, Inge Johansson (RISE), moderated the session; Daniel Roberts (CSIRO) Australia’s national team leader summarized the work of Task 36 during the 2019-2021 triennium; while Mar Edo (RISE, Sweden), task member, talked about importance of social acceptance in WtE projects (Task 36 case study). In addition, Michel Chornet (Enerkem, Canada) presented technologies about syngas-to-biofuels and Jikta Hrbek (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria) focused on gasification routes for wastes. The session got good attention and had a total of 301 participants.

Highlights from the session:

  • The trend to move from a linear towards a more circular economy, processing of unrecyclable waste fractions is no longer only about producing power and/or heat. There are real gains in emerging pathways, such as chemical recycling via gasification.
  • Chemical recycling of waste can lead to low carbon intensity transport fuels or circular chemicals. Enerkem has developed their technology (gasification of waste, followed by methanol or ethanol production) in the past 20 years and is now in commercial roll-out.
  • Several other waste gasification projects are in operation / in development worldwide, most still focused on power/heat production; however more complex product-oriented projects are emerging, e.g., to produce methane, transport fuels or chemicals. The combination with carbon capture and storage is also gaining attention.
  • Companies are under immense pressure to decarbonise in the coming decades. They realize there is no silver bullet and they look for scalable solutions. Waste-derived fuels and chemicals can be a relevant component in their strategies.
  • When installing waste-to-energy plants, as well as emerging technologies to process waste, social acceptance is key. Waste processing plants can be integrated in urban areas, conditional to openness, communication, and involvement of local communities. The Copenhill plant in Copenhagen (which also feeds into the local district heating grid and integrates recreational areas) is a good showcase.

Read more:

Link to the IEA Bionergy Conference 2021 – click here.

Presentation available in PDF at the conference website – click here.