WITH electricity prices in Cyprus climbing to unprecedented heights it is time to think of alternative solutions to energy production, according to Danish ambassador Kirsten Geelan.
In a written article released to the press through Environment Commissioner Charalambos Theopemptou’s office, Geelen said; “At the same time, environmental challenges are gathering at our doorstep. Waste management has become a costly affair with the EU launching legal proceedings regarding the use of landfill sites.”
Citing her own country as an example, Geelan said waste that cannot be recycled is used for the production of electricity.
Denmark has incinerated waste for more than 100 years. Local communities run trash collection as well as the incinerators and recycling centres, and laws and financial incentives ensure that recyclable materials are not burned. The incineration plants of today are high-tech energy plants. Denmark now has 29 such plants, serving 98 municipalities in a country of 5.5 million people, and 10 more are planned or under construction.
The largest waste-to-energy plant in Denmark generates 270 MWh of power and 1.162 MWh of district heating. These numbers correspond to the power consumption in 80.000 homes and the heat consumption in 75.000 homes. In total waste incineration covers 20 per cent of district heating supply and 5 per cent of all electricity supply.
Danish legislation has supported the development of waste incineration as an invaluable part of the energy system as well as a sensible solution to waste-disposal in general, according to Geelan.
All combustible waste has been banned from landfill since 1997. National legislation means that waste sent to landfill incurs a tax of 62,56 €/tonne while waste sent to incineration incurs a tax of 6,69 €/tonne. That makes it most expensive to landfill, cheaper to incinerate and free to recycle.
“Of course it costs money to burn waste. Therefore waste producers pay an incineration fee when waste is delivered to an incineration plant. When electricity and heat are sold, revenues can be spent on reducing the incineration fee,” she said.
On average, revenues from selling heat cover nearly 70 per cent of a plant’s total costs. “This means that the incineration fee only has to cover about 30 per cent of the costs, and therefore Danish waste incineration plants have some of the lowest incineration prices in Europe,” she said.
She added that over many years Danish environmental policies have been developed in close dialogue with private companies. Industry, knowledge institutions and public authorities have joined forces and established partnerships to work towards a common objective.
Danish clean-tech companies have a combined turnover of €43 billion and Danish clean-tech exports have increased to €17 billion.