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WtE projects in Asia - Keppel Seghers shares its experience

Jackson Goh, Senior General Manager in Business Development, in Keppel Integrated Engineering Pte Ltd, speaks to D-Waste about his company, WtE opportunities, and provides an insight of waste management actualities in Asia.

1.    We know that Keppel Seghers is very active in Asia, and that it has a major experience of the waste management situation in China. Please provide us with a brief description of the status and perspectives of waste management in Asia.
 Many countries in Asia are still relying on open dumping and sanitary landfill to dispose of their municipal solid waste because these methods are convenient and seemingly inexpensive. But they can potentially lead to severe environmental pollution. For example, leachate from open dumping can contaminate surrounding water bodies, affecting the health of the nearby communities.
In China, up to 80% of total treated municipal solid waste is disposed by landfill. Due to rising awareness of the harmful emissions from landfills, increasingly, many cities in China, especially the more affluent cities, are adopting waste incineration.keppel1

With China’s urban population expected to reach one billion people by 2050, the Chinese government recognises the need for sound policies for waste management. It has stepped up its efforts to improve the regulatory framework for waste management, and introduced subsidies and corporate tax exemptions for waste-to-energy technologies.

2.    We know that your company is working around several projects. Please give us the highlights of 2-3 projects on which you are working right now.
In Qatar, we completed the construction of the Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre (DSWMC) in October 2011 and will operate and maintain it for 20 years. This is the first integrated solid waste treatment facility in the Middle East, and one of the few in the world to combine several waste treatment technologies in one location. The facility includes state-of-the-art separation of waste into different streams so that the waste will be effectively treated with the appropriate technology.  The waste streams, broadly, are:
•    Organic waste, which is conveyed to the Anaerobic Digestion Composting plant to be composted to produce soil conditioners for use in agriculture and landscaping;
•    Recyclables such as plastics, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, which are separated and sent for recycling; and
•    Residual waste that cannot be recycled nor composted, known as Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF), which is sent to the Waste-to-Energy (WTE) plant to be combusted to recover energy and generate electricity.
Lastly, the by-products of the combustion process - incinerator bottom ash and fly-ash removed from cleaned flue gases - are treated in-situ at the DSWMC and disposed in engineered landfills. By this stage, the waste volume is reduced by more than 95%.
Currently, the DSWMC can treat up to 2,300 tonnes of mixed domestic solid waste per day. It is also able to achieve recovery and recycling of 90% of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, and 50% of plastics which improves Qatar’s national recycling rate.
In Singapore, Keppel has built and is operating the Keppel Seghers Tuas Waste-to-Energy (WTE) Plant. Built on only 1.6 hectares, it is one of the most compact WTE facilities in the world.  It has the capacity to treat 800 tonnes of solid waste a day to generate 22 MW of green energy, and can achieve a landfill diversion rate of up to 90%.  
In the UK, we are building the Greater Manchester Energy-from-Waste (EfW) Plant in two phases. When completed, Phase 1 will also supply steam to the neighbouring chemical complex. The project has secured its environmental permit from the Environment Agency in May 2011.

3.    Recently the Chinese Government announced a 150 billion dollars investment program for new energy facilities in China, for the next five years. Some people express hesitation regarding incineration performance in China. Some others consider it as a hug step forward. Which is your opinion on this?
keppel12The move towards WTE is an encouraging progression from open dumping and poorly-managed landfills.  But understandably, people will have concerns about pollution caused by poor management of by-products such as flue gas and fly ash.
On one hand, the country will need to set and enforce stringent emission standards to ensure waste incineration delivers all the promised benefits without causing additional pollution. It is also important to engage proven solutions providers to help build capabilities in the country.
On the other hand it will also take some time and effort to engage people to give them a better understanding of WTE technologies.  This will help to allay fears arising from unfamiliarity with new solutions.

4.    Give us an idea of the company’s structure and achievements (turn over, activities with emphasis on the environment part)
Keppel Seghers, a subsidiary of Keppel integrated Engineering, is a global provider of environmental technology and services with a strong track record in waste and water treatment projects. Our scope of activities includes consultancy, design, engineering, construction as well as operations and maintenance. To date, Keppel Seghers has executed more than 350 water and wastewater projects and more than 100 waste-to-energy projects in more than 25 countries worldwide.
In China, Keppel Seghers has been providing imported WTE technologies for more than a decade. Over the years, we have successfully developed a combustion grate that is proven to be especially suited to treat low-calorific municipal solid waste in China and other international markets where the waste is similar.
We will continue to bring value-added solutions to the Chinese market. For example, we have started the manufacturing of our proprietary “tumbling action” combustion grates in China. The locally fabricated and assembled grates are of the same high quality and reliability as the imported combustion grates that Keppel has been known for in China. We believe this will offer a cost-effective alternative to other imported combustion grates, and will cater to the needs of the Chinese WTE market.

5.    According to your experience what is the future of gasification and pyrolysis regarding their commercial status?
Both gasification and pyrolysis methods have received attention as possible alternatives to mass burn incineration in recent years. However, the financial feasibility and environmental benefits compared to incineration remain inconclusive for these methods. We have yet to see compelling data on their emission performances, and the higher investment cost for these methods could present hurdles to their market acceptance.

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