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Published on December 26th, 2009 | by Susan Kraemer


$100 Billion Opportunity for Waste-To-Energy Companies in Developing World

December 26th, 2009 by  

Here’s an opportunity to wisely spend some of the $100 billion that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised at Copenhagen to cut the greenhouse gases of developing nations by aiding in the development of renewable energy infrastructure to by-pass fossil fuel dependence. (Previous story.)


Apparently one in four Chinese cities and seven out of 10 counties are without sewage-treatment plants, according to the People’s Daily. While there are many ways to treat sewage or municipal waste; one of the newest is the use of municipal solid waste to make renewable energy.

Converting waste to energy is done in several ways. One is making bio-gas from sewage (human or animal) to run gas-turbine driven electric power plants.

Another is to create a biofuel, such as that used by nearly every vehicle in Sweden’s fifth largest city Linköping. Greenhouse gas emissions there were reduced as much as 90% with the technology. It helped Sweden achieve a 9% below-Kyoto emissions cut with simultaneous 44% economic growth.

This presents an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone; by building the infrastructure in the developing world that uses municipal solid waste to make renewable energy. This would cut the greatest source of the rise expected in greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use in the next decades: from fast-developing nations like India and China.

The developed world evolved water treatment technologies well before our knowledge of climate change drove us to invent uses for municipal solid waste as a source of renewable energy with no greenhouse gas emissions.

But now, nations that do not already have any sewage treatment infrastructure in place are well placed to leapfrog the developed world, which is only just starting to tap into waste-to-energy from municipal solid waste, or sewage.

For all kinds of municipal waste-to-energy companies, this presents a huge opportunity. The developed world has pledged $100 billion to develop renewable energy in the developing world. As I noted here, that money is not charity – as it is incorrectly framed in most media reports (previous story), but it will go to the renewable energy companies from those nations that get there first. This waste-to-energy plant pictured is from a New Zealand company that has apparently already built numerous large facilities throughout Asia.

Image: Waste Solutions

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

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