- Waste to Energy Plants
- IPCC report
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Waste To Energy plants
Context: The Kerala government recently announced the State’s first waste-to-energy project in Kozhikode. The planned facility is expected to be built in two years and generate about 6 MW of power.
What is Waste to energy Plant?
- A waste-to-energy plant is a waste management facility that combusts wastes to produce electricity. This type of power plant is sometimes called a trash-to-energy, municipal waste incineration, energy recovery, or resource recovery plant.
- Waste-to-energy projects use non-recyclable dry waste to generate electricity. The process increases the State’s power generation capacity and eases the solid waste management (SWM) burden.
- Generally, solid waste in India is 55-60% biodegradable organic waste, which can be converted into organic compost or biogas; 25-30% non-biodegradable dry waste; and around 15% silt, stones, and drain waste.
- Of the non-biodegradable dry waste, only 2-3% – including hard plastics, metals, and e-waste – is recyclable. The remainder consists of low-grade plastic, rags, and cloth that can’t be recycled. This fraction of the non-recyclable dry waste is the most challenging portion of the present SWM system; the presence of these materials also reduces the efficiency of recycling other dry and wet waste.
- Waste-to-energy plants use this portion to generate power. The waste is combusted to generate heat, which is converted into electricity.
What are the type of wastes?
- There are different types of waste which are generated from our daily or industrial activities such as organic waste, e-waste, hazardous waste, inert waste etc.
- Organic waste refers to waste which degrades or is broken down by microorganisms over time. All organic wastes are essentially carbon-based compounds; though they may be diverse in nature and have different degradation rates.
- Organic waste has a significant portion in overall waste generation in industrial/urban/ agricultural sector and therefore it can be used for energy generation. The organic fraction of waste can be further classified as non-biodegradable and biodegradable organic waste
- Biodegradable waste consists of organics that can be utilized for food by naturally occurring micro- organisms within a reasonable length of time. The biodegradable organic comprise of agro residue, food processing rejections, municipal solid waste (food waste, leaves from garden waste, paper, cloths/ rags etc.), waste from poultry farms, cattle farm slaughter houses, dairy, sugar, distillery, paper, oil extraction plant, starch processing and leather industries.
- Non-Biodegradable organic materials are organics resistant to biological degradation or have a very low degradation rate. This primarily includes woody plants, Cardboard, cartons, containers, wrappings, pouches, discarded clothing, wooden furniture, agricultural dry waste, bagasse, rice husk etc.
What are the Waste-to-Energy technologies available?
- Waste-to-Energy (WTE) technologies to recover the energy from the waste in the form of Electricity and Biogas/Syngas are given as below:
- Bio methanation is anaerobic digestion of organic materials which is converted into biogas. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a bacterial fermentation process that operates without free oxygen and results in a biogas containing mostly methane (~60%), carbon dioxide (~40%) and other gases. Biomethanation has dual benefits. It gives biogas as well as manure as end product.
- This technology can be conveniently employed in a decentralized manner for biodegradation of segregated organic wet wastes such as wastes from kitchens, canteens, institutions, hotels, and slaughter houses and vegetables markets.
- The biogas generated from Bio methanation process can be burned directly in a gas boiler/burner to produce heat for thermal application industries and cooking or burnt in a gas engine to produce electricity. Alternatively, the biogas can be cleaned to remove the carbon dioxide and other substances, to produce BioCNG. This can be injected into the national gas grid to be used in the same way as natural gas, or used as a vehicle fuel.
- Incineration technology is complete combustion of waste (Municipal Solid Waste or Refuse derived fuel) with the recovery of heat to produce steam that in turn produces power through steam turbines.
- The flue gases produced in the boilers have to be treated by an elaborate air pollution control system. The resultant ash from incineration of solid waste can be used as construction material after necessary processing while the residue can be safely disposed of in a landfill.
- This technology is well established technology and has been deployed in many projects successfully at commercial level in India to treat solid wastes like Municipal Solid Waste and Industrial solid Waste etc. and generate electricity.
- Gasification is a process that uses high temperatures (500-1800o C) in the presence of limited amounts of oxygen to decompose materials to produce synthetic gas (a mixture of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2)).
- Biomass, agro-residues, Segregated MSW and RDF pellets are used in the gasifier to produce Syngas. This gas further can be used for thermal or power generation purposes
- The purpose of gasification of waste is to generate power more efficiently at lower power level (< 2MW) and also to minimize emissions and hence it is an attractive alternative for the thermal treatment of solid waste.
- Pyrolysis uses heat to break down combustible materials in the absence of oxygen, producing a mixture of combustible gases (primarily methane, complex hydrocarbons, hydrogen, and carbon monoxide), liquids and solid residues. The products of pyrolysis process are: (i) a gas mixture; (ii) a liquid (bio-oil/tar); (iii) a solid residue (carbon black). The gas generated by either of these processes can be used in boilers to provide heat, or it can be cleaned up and used in combustion turbine generators. The purpose of pyrolysis of waste is to minimize emissions and to maximize the gain.
Why do waste-to-energy plants often fail?
- While waste-to-energy plants seem like a simple solution, they have several challenges en route to becoming feasible.
Low calorific value
- First is the low calorific value of solid waste in India due to improper segregation. The calorific value of mixed Indian waste is about 1,500 kcal/kg, which is not suitable for power generation.
- Biodegradable waste has high moisture content and can’t be used for power generation; it should be composted instead.
- The calorific value of segregated and dried non-recyclable dry waste is much higher, at 2,800-3,000 kcal/kg, sufficient to generate power. However, segregation (ideally at the source, if not at the processing plant) should be streamlined to ensure the waste coming to the facility has this calorific value.
High Costs Of Energy Production
- The cost of generating power from waste is around Rs 7-8/unit, while the cost at which the States’ electricity boards buy power from coal, hydroelectric, and solar power plants is around Rs 3-4/unit. While State electricity boards are considering purchasing power from newer renewable energy sources like waste-to-energy, the price of the power generated needs to halve.
- Many waste-to-energy projects have failed because of improper assessments, high expectations, improper characterization studies, and other on-ground conditions.
How to overcome these challenges?
- To overcome its various challenges, the municipality must ensure that only non-biodegradable dry waste is sent to the plant and separately manage the other kinds of waste
- The municipality or the department responsible for SWM should be practical about the high cost of power generation, and include the State electricity department, perhaps as a tripartite agreement between the municipality, the plant operator, and the power distribution agency. It is also crucial to conduct field studies and learn from the experience of other projects.
2 . IPCC Report
Context: Highlighting the need for urgent climate action, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Synthesis Report for the Sixth Assessment Cycle on March 20 in Interlaken, Switzerland.
What is IPCC synthesis Report?
- The Synthesis Report is a compilation of the main findings of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, based on results from three Working Groups (WGs):
- WG, I evaluated the physical science basis of climate change,
- WG II evaluated the impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability, and
- WG III evaluated the mitigation
- The Synthesis Report also drew from Special Reports based on Global Warming of 1.5°C (October 2018), Climate Change and Land (August 2019), and the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (September 2019).
What does the report say?
- The report highlights the urgency of drastically reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses and so limit rising global temperatures by 1.5 C from pre-industrial levels, set by the Paris Agreement.
- The report emphasised the need to adapt to human-caused climate change through “mainstream effective and equitable action” for a “liveable sustainable future for all.”
- The report explained that despite the IPCC’s warnings in 2018, the increase in greenhouse gas emissions continued so much so that the global surface temperature has already warmed by 1.1 C over pre-industrial levels, leading to extreme and/or unpredictable weather events that risking human health, fortunes, and ecosystems.
- Noting the impact of the rise in temperature, the report states that such events have made people much more susceptible to food insecurity, water shortages with vulnerable populations disproportionately facing the brunt of climate change.
What is the way ahead?
- The report suggests climate resilient development that will not only mitigate the effects of climate change but also provide wider benefits.
- Access to clean energy, improving air quality to increasing employment opportunities, boosting healthcare through technology, and delivering equity are among the report’s recommended goals to help adapt to climate change.
- The report also foregrounded the role of financial investments to achieve climate goals and encouraged public funding through central banks, government and financial regulators to reduce emissions, scale up climate resilience, and protect low-income and marginalised communities.
What are the implications for India?
- The report implies that with a large vulnerable population, India needs to prioritise grants and policies that focusses on adapting to the effects of climate change.
- India’s priority should be to minimise loss and damage in terms of lives, livelihood and biodiversity, and accelerate equitable action mitigation and adaptation.
- It proposes an approach emphasising ‘climate resilient development’. This recognizes that development is important, but the quality of that development, whether it locks us into low or high carbon choices or resilient development is important.
3 . Facts for prelims
Extended Fund Facility (EFF)
- The Extended Fund Facility (EFF) provides financial assistance to countries facing serious medium-term balance of payments problems because of structural weaknesses that require time to address.
- To help countries implement medium-term structural reforms, the EFF offers longer program engagement and a longer repayment period.
- Purposes- Provide assistance to countries experiencing serious payment imbalances because of structural impediments or slow growth and an inherently weak balance-of-payments position. Support comprehensive programs with a focus on policies needed to correct structural imbalances over an extended period.
- Eligibility- All member countries facing actual or potential external financing needs. Most often used by advanced and emerging market countries, but low-income countries sometimes use the EFF together with the Extended Credit Facility.
- Conditionality- Countries’ policy commitments expected to focus on structural reforms to address institutional or economic weaknesses, in addition to policies to maintain macroeconomic stability.
- A Red Notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.
- Criminals or suspects often flee to other countries to evade facing justice. A Red Corner Notice, or Red Notice (RN) alerts police forces across the world about fugitives who are wanted internationally.
- Interpol says “Red Notices are issued for fugitives wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence”.
- Red Notices contain information that helps identify wanted persons, such as their names, dates of birth, nationality, and physical attributes such as the colour of their hair and eyes, as well as pictures and biometric data such as fingerprints, if they are available. RNs also mention the crime(s) they are wanted for.
- A Red Notice is only an international wanted persons’ notice; it is not an international arrest warrant.
- GISAID, the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data, is a global science initiative and primary source launched on the occasion of the Sixty-first World Health Assembly in May 2008 that provides access to genomic data of influenza viruses and the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The GISAID platform was Created as an alternative to the public domain sharing model, GISAID’s sharing mechanism took into account the concerns of Member States by providing a publicly accessible database designed by scientist for scientist, to improve the sharing of influenza data.
- This includes genetic sequence and related clinical and epidemiological data associated with human viruses, and geographical as well as species-specific data associated with avian and other animal viruses, to help researchers understand how viruses evolve and spread during epidemics and pandemics.
- GISAID does so by overcoming disincentive hurdles and restrictions, which discourage or prevented sharing of virological data prior to formal publication.
- The Initiative ensures that open access to data in GISAID is provided free-of-charge to all individuals that agreed to identify themselves and agreed to uphold the GISAID sharing mechanism governed through its Database Access Agreement.
- On January 10, 2020, the first whole-genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 were made available on GISAID, which enabled global responses to the pandemic, including the development of the first vaccines and diagnostic tests to detect SARS-CoV-2. The database has become the world’s largest repository for SARS-CoV-2 sequences.
- GISAID facilitates genomic epidemiology and real-time surveillance to monitor the emergence of new COVID-19 viral strains across the planet.
- Since its launch GISAID plays an essential role in the sharing of data among the WHO Collaborating Centers and National Influenza Centers for the bi-annual influenza vaccine virus recommendations by the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS).
- GISAID was recognized for its importance to global health by G20 health ministers in 2017, and in 2020 the World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan called the data-science initiative “a game changer”.
- The ancient temple of Sharda is one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas and is considered to be the abode of Hindu Goddess Saraswati.
- The temple was also once regarded as one of the foremost centres of higher learning of Vedic works, scriptures and commentaries. It was considered to be at par with the ancient seats of learning at Nalanda and Takshila.
- The iconic pilgrimage, revered by Kashmiri Pandits, has been out of reach since partition as the temple, and the adjacent ruins of the Sharda University lie in Neelam Valley, 160 km from Muzaffarabad.
- It lies right across the Line of Control in a small village, Shardi or Sardi, where the river Neelam (Kishanganga) converges with the Madhumati and Sargun streams.
- Even though there isn’t much evidence to pin-point the temple’s origin, it is believed to have been constructed during the Kushan empire in the early 1st century.
- The origin of the Sharada Peeth goes back to the time when Kashmiri Pandits transformed the land into a centre of learning, known as Sharada Peeth or Sarvajnanpeetha. Goddess Sharada was also referred to as Kashmira-Puravasani.
- It is also believed among academics that the temple was perhaps constructed by Raja Lalitaditya since it resembles the Martand temple in Anantnag closely in architecture, design and construction style. The latter was also commissioned by Lalitaditya.
Structure of temple
- The shrine reportedly doesn’t have a deity but large stone slabs inside the unadorned temple.
- It is said that a Shivling (symbolic idol of Lord Shiv) once rested just outside the shrine. The stairway leading to the shrine is around 10 feet in width and each step is more than a foot in height and 2 to 3 feet deep.
- Close to the temple, the ruins of one of the world’s oldest universities can be found. It is believed that Sharda University had its own script known as Sharada and it had over 5,000 scholars and the biggest library.