Energy from Waste facilities across Europe

11 March 2021

Energy from Waste facilities across Europe
There are around 500 Energy from Waste (EfW) facilities across Europe contributing to the Circular Economy, helping drive down the amount of waste sent to landfill and turning waste into a resource that creates energy and jobs.
An EfW is essentially a power plant that safely burns non-recyclable waste instead of oil or gas to create electricity and heat. It is a tried and tested technology with a long track record of success.
Waste, when landfilled, rots to produce methane which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. According to the Environmental Services Association, the UK Committee on Climate Change has acknowledged (in its Sixth Carbon Budget, December 2020) that the transition in the UK waste sector from landfill to energy recovery have resulted in a 63% reduction in the waste sector’s carbon emissions since 1990. Some European examples of EfWs facilities include:
LIPOR’s EfW facility in Porto, Portugal, recently marked its 20th anniversary. In the past two decades it has treated over 7,700,000 tonnes of residual waste, which would have required three landfills had the facility not existed.
The recently commissioned Amager Bakke EfW plant in Copenhagen, Denmark, is rapidly becoming one of the most well-known EfW facilities in the world. Also known as Copenhill, the facility treats 400,000 tonnes of waste annually, producing electricity and heat for 150,000 local homes. This plant also contributes to life in Copenhagen in a very different way – the facility acts as a recreational facility complete with a dry ski-slope. Opened in 2019, Copenhill was featured on an episode of BBC sports show Ski Sunday, and in a recent advert for the Ford Puma.
The Covanta Energy from Waste facility in Poolbeg, Dublin, Ireland will divert at least 600,000 tonnes of municipal waste from landfill and generate enough electricity to power over 100,000 homes.
The facility is committed to being a good neighbour to its local community and encourages tour groups to visit the facility to learn more about the processes undertaken. In addition, Covanta, the owner of the plant, invests in many aspects of the local community including community centres, sports clubs and schools.
EEW’s EfW plant in Hanover, Germany, was strategically located in the state’s capital to best utilise the energy potential of waste. The plant safely processes 280,000 tonnes of waste each year, meeting the equivalent energy needs of 56,000 homes in the region.
These are just four examples of the hundreds of Energy from Waste facilities that currently operate across Europe, from city centres to rural locations. It’s also worth noting that EfWs are compatible with strong recycling rates – European nations with the best recycling rates also tend to utilise the most thermal treatment (i.e., Germany). More information is available here.
In 2018, the Confederation of European Waste-to-Energy Plants published this map of Energy from Waste facilities operating throughout Europe, showing how many tonnes of waste are treated by these plants.