Thermal and Biological Waste-to-Energy Markets

Published - May 2009| Analyst - Syamala Ariyanchira| Code - EGY063A
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Report Highlights

  • The global market for WTE technologies was worth $19.9 billion in 2008. This is expected to increase to $26.2 billion in 2014, for a CAGR of 6.7%.
  • Thermal WTE technologies have the largest share of the market, worth $18.5 billion in 2008. This should reach $23.7 billion in 2014, for a CAGR of 5.1%.
  • The biological WTE segment generated $1.4 billion in 2008. This should increase to $2.4 billion in 2014, for a CAGR of 11.4%.



Conversion of waste to energy is becoming a key component of integrated waste management strategies across the globe, as the ever increasing waste volumes force countries to revisit their approach to waste management. Both political and environmental attention is turning towards the development of cost effective and sustainable solutions to this problem. 
As awareness is building against reliance on landfills as a waste management strategy, land filling is becoming more and more expensive and restricted. As an alternate waste management strategy, waste incineration is being adopted by several governments. This is seen as a strategy to relieve the pressure on landfills and to dispose of any waste that cannot be recycled. However, incineration poses several challenges, including the high energy input for plant operations. This is leading to the emergence of new technologies that are more environmental friendly and cost effective. 
This BCC report provides an in-depth look at current as well as emerging waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies and estimates the value of the global WTE market. The scope of this study includes non-hazardous solid wastes such as municipal solid wastes (MSW) and biowastes such as kitchen waste, food waste, yard waste, etc. The study excludes sewage sludge and waste water treatment plants as well as land fill gas plants. It has to be noted that the definition of MSW varies in various markets. In markets where codigestion/co-combustion of biowaste with MSW is common, the market size will reflect the trend. The market is categorized basically into thermal and biological WTE market sub-segments, and developments within each of these broad categories are studied in detail. The biological WTE market is evaluated based on the amount of biogas generated. The report includes forecasts of the total WTE market as well as that of sub-segments within. Regional analysis of the industry has also been included in terms of current and future trends of WTE markets and competitive structure. 
A detailed review of the current and possible future legislation that can impact the development of WTE market is also presented. Finally, technology trends analysis has been presented in the report, identifying how the most prevalent waste management methods are changing lately with the advent of new promising technologies. One of the key sectors accelerating this shift in the waste management landscape includes new, biotechnology-based approaches. This report analyses this aspect in detail.
The waste management industry is changing its landscape radically. This is evident from the rising focus on WTE options by the industry players, governments, and environmentalists. WTE has already gained the status as an important component of integrated waste management strategies, across the globe. For example, there are over 475 thermal WTE plants in Europe today that process around 59 million tons of municipal solid waste per annum. In order to cope with the rising volumes of waste to be treated and disposed off as a result of the Landfill Directive, this number is expected to increase significantly in the future. 
While the initial focus was on waste incineration as an alternative method to landfills, new cost effective and sustainable technology platforms have emerged. Some of these platforms already account for significant market shares within the waste management market. Waste reduction and recycling are being promoted as the best strategies. Composting is also gaining importance. Many more promising platforms are expected to become commercially viable soon. In this context, it is important to have an overview of the current market trends that can help in the adoption of best strategies by the governments who are responsible for adopting sustainable solutions to handle waste-related issues. It is also important for industry players and technology developers to understand the current as well as the future trends in order to strategize their investments. 
This report particularly focuses on the concept of waste conversion to energy that is emerging as the chosen waste management strategy worldwide. This has been identified as an area of high future potential. There are few reports available that focus on all the aspects of WTE in terms of geographic regions, technologies, sub-segments, competitive structure of the industry, and promising technology developments. BCC has published a few reports related to waste management markets and renewable energy markets. While these reports handle the WTE concept as a small part within their scope, a detailed analysis of this market sector up until this point, has not been done. 
This report reviews the WTE markets globally with discussions on the market development and growth potential in over the next few years. It also analyzes key factors that are driving the market growth in key geographic regions. The report will describe in detail various thermal as well as non-thermal technologies employed for generating energy from waste. It will also include in-depth discussions on key markets, industry structure, and the regulatory environment. It would be valuable reading for investors, policy makers, and industry participants. Profiles of leading players in the industry will also be included. 
Such involved analyses have been conducted to help strategy developers and decision makers of waste management companies as well as government bodies. The detailed analyses of the regulatory factors that have been instrumental in driving the industry are especially suitable for legislators involved in government policy development programs. Technology trend analyses as well as patent analyses give an overview of promising technology platforms and this section is particularly helpful for research managers in charge of project identification and development. 
Scope of the report includes non-hazardous solid wastes such as MSW and commercial wastes. Co-treated biowastes and food wastes fall within the scope since co-combustion and co-digestion are practiced in several markets. Sewage sludge, landfill gas, and waste water treatment markets are outside the scope of this study. 
This report contains:
  • An overview of WTE market
  • Emerging trends in the waste management market
  • In-depth analysis of WTE methods with highest market revenues
  • Analysis of regulatory environments in the U.S., Europe, and Asia Pacific, and country-wise summaries of national legislation and policies
  • Key players in the WTE markets
  • Regional analysis of WTE markets
  • Challenges of the market
  • Sales projections through 2013 for WTE markets by thermal and biological technologies
  • Sales projections through 2013 for WTE markets in key geographic regions
  • Analysis of leading companies and their successful strategies

The base year of this study is 2008. Market figures are based on the revenues at the plant level and are projected in 2008 constant dollars (i.e., inflation is not computed into the projection figures). The revenue figures are basically derived from the revenues of the key players in a particular year. Hence, it will include their technology revenues, contract and consulting revenues, tipping fees, and energy sale revenues. In the case of thermal plants, waste conversion to heat or electricity is straightforward. Biological plants, on the other hand, produce biogas that can be stored and later converted to various forms of energy. Hence, the biological WTE segment in this report focuses on the anaerobic digestion plants that produce biogas. Since biogas is either converted into energy or vehicle fuel, the market size is calculated based on biogas production capacities. Forecasts are mainly based on the projections of the marketers. Regional market trends have also been tracked for deriving logical forecasts since WTE market growth largely depends upon the regulatory environment of the markets. Technology push factors have also been given their due as another important aspect affecting market growth trends. 

Both primary and secondary research methods were used in this market research study. The information and analysis presented in this report are based on an extensive survey of the WTE industry as well as a detailed examination of published literature and reports obtained from regulatory authorities, research institutions, trade associations and national and world environment organizations. Key information from the literature was used to obtain expert opinion on commercial potential and market sizes from industry professionals. 
Data to prepare this study were derived from regulatory agencies, trade literature, environment support groups, annual reports of companies, and industry related databases. In addition, discussion with product managers of waste management companies, research executives, academic researchers, and government agency spokespersons have been conducted for gaining insight into the market and future trends.
Syamala Ariyanchira is a bench scientist with over fifteen years of experience who moved to industry analysis. She combines her technical background with business sector issues and is involved in various activities including technology assessment, strategic planning, competitor analysis, due diligence, and market analysis. Her clients include investment firms, government agencies, and chemical and pharmaceutical companies. She holds a PhD from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, and has authored two recent reports for BCC on global markets of orphan drugs and drug-of-abuse testing. 
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The information developed in this report is intended to be as reliable as possible at the time of publication and of a professional nature. This information does not constitute managerial, legal, or accounting advice; nor should it serve as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual, or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is speculative in nature. The author assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or its use.

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