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Waste-to-energy market to triple by 2016

Three key trends that define modern civilization are increased urbanization, rising demand for energy and rapid growth in the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) that is generated by industrialized societies. However, emerging waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies hold the promise of addressing two of these major issues by utilizing MSW for the efficient production of electricity and heat using both biological and thermal methods. A recent report from Pike Research, Boulder, Colo., forecasts that global revenues from WTE systems will experience strong growth over the next five years, more than tripling in size from $4.2 billion in 2011 to almost $13.6 billion by 2016.

“Waste collected in cities contains a large amount of biological and renewable materials, and it is therefore an important source of renewable energy,” says Pike Research President Clint Wheelock. “As a consequence, energy-from-waste contributes to energy security and diversification and matches the growing demand for renewable energy in a carbon constrained world.”

Wheelock adds that policies, regulations and changing economic conditions are driving the growth of WTE capacity worldwide, creating attractive business opportunities for providers of WTE technologies and related components. Combustion is the primary technology today and is entrenched in the market, yet advanced thermal treatment (ATT) technologies such as plasma arc gasification are now emerging. Moreover, Pike Research’s analysis finds that biological technologies for treating waste offer an attractive alternative to thermal treating methods.

The WTE technology market offers opportunities for turnkey plant and key equipment suppliers, service companies that provide plant operations and maintenance, and engineering companies. Yet, the barriers to enter the turnkey business are substantial. Strong balance sheets to capture high capital-intensive projects and sustain long sales cycles, very reliable technologies and long-standing track records, and in-depth knowledge of market constraints are prerequisites to successfully operate in the market. A handful of specialist companies per region have these capabilities. The market is less constrained for key equipment categories such as air pollution control (APC), and this is also the case in the biological treatment market, where the capacities and the capital requirements of the projects are smaller.

An executive summary of Pike Research’s study, “Waste-to-Energy Technology Markets,” is available for free download on the firm’s website, www.pikeresearch.com.


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