We have plenty of waste in the UK, but we don’t realise how much of it could be used to create more sustainable energy. Progress is always being made to try and create new and more efficient energy sourced, and using our waste could just be one of them. Already, we have implemented some of these methods in order to create sustainable energy, and it is such an exciting area. Here are some of the ways we are able to convert waste to energy in the UK, and the methods used to do so.
While used to burn both controlled and clinical waste, incinerators have more than one main purpose. Incinerators are also used to produce energy. When waste is burned, a great deal of energy is produced that is excess. This is gathered and stored by the plant, and can be used later to produce electricity for the plant. It can even be stored and then sold to the National Grid, which is often done of there is excess after the powering of the plant. There are hopes that electricity produced by incineration will become more popular in the UK – especially as it is such a commonly used for of disposal. For example, in Denmark 4.8% of energy that year was produced by incinerators.
The process decomposes material in a similar way to a landfill site, but digestion takes place in an oxygen free environment. It is often used for sewage treatment, but sadly there are not many plants in the UK at present (although plans for more are in development). The plants produce a very significant amount of methane when in use, and this can be harnessed to generate electricity. The majority of the plants in the UK use the methane produced to power their buildings, and any excess is either stored in generators or sold to the National Grid. It is a fantastic way of sustaining buildings with renewable and harmless energy. Learn more about this here.
This is a thermal process that heats organic waste without the use of oxygen. Gas, ash, and tar are produced as by-products of the reaction. The gases that are produced as a result of this process can be utilised by direct combustion, and the heat energy is then used to produce steam. This steam can then be harnessed to produce electricity, or even heat. It can be stored in a generator or used right away. It is becoming a popular method, and some plants have even reached a commercial level combined with pyrolysis.
There may not be a great deal of waste to energy plants in use at the moment, but there is clear evidence that it is on the rise. In a world searching for new sustainable energies, these new processes could have a fantastic and positive effect on our future energy production as well as the environment. Not only this, but it could help to reduce the amount of waste in landfills as we find more things to incinerate or produce new disposal methods that can create energy.