Waste To Energy Plant, Conversion And Technology (UPSC)

waste to energy upsc

Waste to energy plant in india

Many waste to energy plant in India have received carbon credits, one of them is Okhla plants. As per municipal solid waste rules 2016, 5 percent of the total fuel should be RDF ( Refuse derived fuel). The National power tariff policy 2016 has mandated that if there is a sewage treatment plant within 50 km radius of a thermal power plant then it is compulsory to use the residue produced from that sewage treatment plant.

The reasons for the opposition are :

  • It is surrounded by residential areas. The rules say these waste to energy plants should not be in closeness to the human population.
  • These waste to energy plant should not be contagious with the landfill site as per the norms.
  • The landfill site is around 16 km from the plant in this case. Moreover it is just 1.5 km from the Okhla Bird Sanctuary.   
  • It is in the catchment of Yamuna River.

Waste To Energy Conversion Methods

The Ministry Of New And Renewable Energy has given following waste to energy conversion methods :

  • Combustion
  • Gasification
  • Electrochemical
  • Polycrack Technology
  • Biochemical


Combustion method is defined as a supervised burning of a garbage in a restricted area in order to get rid of the dangerous and toxic substances. Majority of the waste to energy plants are using this approach not only in India but also in other parts of the world.

There are 2 process of combustion based on the solid and liquid  extravagance :  

Waste to energy Incineration : In this incineration process is used to destroy the garbage which contain poisonous contaminants. It is done in an incinerator which is a funnel-like shape and is structured in such a way that the combustion air and the gasses produced from the burning, it can be mixed properly. This is really helpful in reducing emissions and it makes sure that the combustion is taking place properly. 

Various new designs for waste incinerator funnels and technologies for it are being obtained to improve the burning efficiency and provide other advantages like better ash quality. There are different types of Incinerators based on the different categories such as Municipal Solid and Medical-Waste Incineration. 

Boilers and industrial furnaces (BIFs) : Boilers and industrial furnaces (BIFs) are a certain category of boilers or furnaces that burn dangerous residue primarily for the recovery of energy or materials, with the treatment of the these through incineration serving as an added advantage.


Gasification process is a more systematic than waste-incineration. In the chemical process of gasification, it is heated in an area with low oxygen levels until it breaks into its individual molecules. When this is heated in the absence of air it results in the syngas formation.

Syngas, a flammable gas and inert slag are the two by-products of this process. Residue is converted into producer gas in the partial presence of air.

Syngas and Producer gas, both of them can be utilized for the rotation of the turbine and in the internal combustion engines.

Gasification takes place in a gasifier where the temperature is higher and oxygen is low, steam is directly passed through carbonous raw material which then results in the formation of syngas and slag.

Solid waste gasification helps effectively in producing fuel which can be used in burners and engines to produce electricity also helps in improvising remaining waste, transport cost is low and the solid waste is not required to be carried out to long distances as well.

As a part of NDC submitted for Paris Agreement India will produce 10,000 MW from biomass gasification.


Microbial fuel cell is the most commonly employed approach in electrochemical. There are 2 chambers anode and cathode in it. The conditions are anaerobic and aerobic in anodic chamber in which waste is put and mixed with anaerobic bacteria, the decomposition of the  extravagance multiple products two of them are electron and hydrogen ions.

The electron moves to the circuit towards the cathodic chamber whereas the hydrogen ion moves through the semipermeable membrane. The electrons are received by the oxygen atoms to form the ion whereas there is a reaction between hydrogen ion and the oxygen ion to form the water molecule and at the same time producing electricity as well but these cells cannot be used for large scale electrification. Besides that the conditions in the anodic chamber should neither be acidic nor alkaline. The temperature should also be in the range of 20 to 40 degree Celsius.

Polycrack Technology

In polycrack technology when this mixture is heated up it produces multiple products to be used as fuel which includes combustible gasses as well. It is a closed loop system with zero discharge. It does not require pre-segregation. The temperature required is also not very high.


  1. Anaerobic digestion which produces biogas. Biogas is a naturally occurring gas which is produced from the breakdown of the organic garbage. Biogas is a renewable source of energy and gives a lot of benefits to the environment.
  2. Fermentation to produce ethyl alcohol.

Advantages Of Biogas

  • Biogas is a renewable source of energy. As it will always be available in the environment.
  • Biogas does not produce any pollution as there is no emission of greenhouse gas.
  • The production of Biogas also leaves a byproduct which can be used as a manure. 
  • Since the cost of Biogas is low it is eco-friendly. 


From this article we can conclude that this programme is an effective initiative by the Indian government which includes Swachh Bharat Abhiyan 6 plants in Delhi NCR. It is also important for the river cleaning programmes like Namami Gange. The Ministry Of New And Renewable Energy has come up with different conversion methods such as Combustion, Gasification, Electrochemical, Polycrack Technology and Biochemical which would greatly help in removing harmful and toxic substances from the waste.


Which is the waste management program by Government of India?

It is one of the flagship programmes of the government of India and another program is Swachh Bharat Mission and theme for Swachh Bharat is Waste to Health.

What is the Waste to Energy Programme?

Its goal is to help in the establishment of waste to energy projects for the production of biogas/bioCNG/power/syngas/electricity from residues.

When was waste to energy launched in India?

The first plant was set up in Timarpur in Delhi in 1987.

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