EU 2013: 0.7 % growth of primary energy output from municipal waste

Source: EurObserv’ER Consortium

Paris, France — EurObserv’ER reckons that the energy recovered from municipal waste incineration that takes into account the organic part (cartons, kitchen waste, etc.) increased slightly in 2013 by 0.7percent over 2012, giving output of about 8.7 Mtoe. Heat sales to district heating networks stepped up conspicuously in 2013, as synergy between the incineration plants and the heating networks improved. Heat output increased 7.8 percent over 2012 to reach 2.4 Mtoe, while electricity output remained stable at 18.7 TWh.

This development demonstrates the increased energy efficiency of the incineration plants that is stimulated by European legislation, primarily through the transposition of the framework directive on waste (2008/98/EC) that encourages operators to optimize the energ y efficiency of their plants, primarily by looking for new outlets for heat production. The Directive stipulates that the incinerators can only be classed as waste-to-energy recovery units if they meet minimum yield criteria, which in the case of plant constructed since 31 December 2008 must be at least equal to 65percent. The energy efficiency of those constructed prior to 2008 must be at least 60percent. If these criteria are not met, the waste incineration process will not be recognized as treatment eligible for waste ranking as imposed by the directive.

240millionHuge disparities in europe

Waste-to-energy recovery in the European Union is a patchwork panorama because of the political divergences on treatment methods and also delayed integration of the new Member States. At the start of the 2000s, the landfill directive of 26 April 1999 (1999/31 /EC) really set the ball rolling for the construction of incineration plant totally dedicated to recovering electricity. The directive set a target for reducing the dumping of biodegradable municipal waste: a 75percent reduction by 16 July 2006 (compared to the reference year, 1995), then to 50 percent by 16 July 2009 and 35percent by 16 July 2016. A number of countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Austria and Denmark went even further by banning municipal waste dumping altogether. Landfill dumping is now marginal (1-3percent) in these countries, which has enabled them to develop their recycling and waste-to – energy recovery concurrently.

Other countries further to the South of Europe (Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece) and also the UK have dragged their feet and still have fairly high municipal waste dumping rates (about 50-60percent). Lastly, successive and recent enlargements to include Eastern European countries in 2004 (the EU of 25) and 2007 (the EU of 27) mean that their waste recover y sectors are underdeveloped with landfill dumping rates rising to excess of 90percent (65-99percent). Their funding requirements are high, and even though they receive aid from the European Union, they will have to make major efforts to meet their obligations.

The full Renewable Municipal Waste Barometer can be downloaded from

Source: EurObserv’ER Consortium