Public policy think tank NITI Aayog has said small towns and cities with limited funds for solid waste management could harness solar power to run their waste management plants.
NITI Aayog’s ‘Waste-Wise Cities’ report sheds light on the best practices in municipal solid waste management, including the use of solar energy.
NITI Aayog noted that Leh is the first city to have developed a fully solar-powered waste processing facility that processes 90% of its solid waste. The self-sustaining solid waste management facility operates at a capacity of 30 tons per day in 2020. Ladakh Renewable Energy Development Agency installed a 100-kW rooftop solar system to provide sufficient green power to run all operations at the plant.
The tourist town receives high-intensity solar radiation at an average of 6-12 kWh per square meter. With 320 sunny days in a year and low temperatures, the solar panels work efficiently in the region.
The report noted that the use of solar energy to run the plant has been successful in Leh and reduced the operational costs of the waste management plant. Using solar energy in waste processing is a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable technological solution.
Similarly, Panchgani, a hill station in Maharashtra, also installed a solar and wind power system to power its waste processing plant taking another step towards green waste management.
NITI Aayog said larger solar power-producing states like Andhra Pradesh Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Telangana could replicate these solar-powered waste management plants on a large scale.
Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) has two waste-to-energy plants with 100 tons per day capacity at Sukhi Sewaniya and five tons per day capacity at Bittan Market. It segregates dry waste into more than ten categories and sends it to the recycling agencies. The rejected wastes are stored as refuse-derived fuel and sent to appropriate sources for energy recovery.
Similarly, Panaji segregates 99% of waste at the source and processes 80% of its overall waste. After a series of sorting and segregation, the city corporation uses 20, 75, 150, 300, 500, and 1,000 kilograms of bio-digestors to process biodegradable waste and convert waste to energy. The biogas produced is used by local canteens and five-star hotels. Also, bales of non-recyclable waste – separate bales of paper, plastic, tetra packs, and cloth – are made using baling machines. The corporation earns around ₹100,000 (~$1,345) monthly from the sale of recyclable items.
The report noted that waste-to-energy projects are financially and operationally viable only with an assured minimum of 150-200 tons of daily non-recyclable, high calorific value segregated non-biodegradable waste. Otherwise, these projects would end up working below their operational capacity and become defunct.
Last month, the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) invited bids to set up an 8 MW grid-connected waste-to-energy project in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
Mercom had earlier reported that the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) signed a memorandum of understanding with Indian Oil and NTPC Limited to develop a demonstration waste-to-energy project at the Okhla landfill site in Delhi.
Harsh is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Previously with Indian Express, he has covered general interest stories. He holds a Masters Degree in Journalism from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune.