Waste and Energy Company (AEB) creates enough power for 3/4 of the city of Amsterdam. When strictly looking at the numbers the efficiency they are able to achieve is impressive.
- 1 million MWh of electricity produced per year from 470,000 tons of waste
- 300,000 giga-joules of heat, with plans for expansion
Over 600 trucks and 1 rail car enter the facility everyday. After receiving the waste it is mixed for consistent burning. From here it goes down a shoot where the waste is readied for burning. The fires range between 1832-2192 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat is achieved without the burning of any fossil fuel.
Without getting too technical ( check out http://www.afvalenergiebedrijf.nl/home.aspx for more info) the facility achieves a 30% efficiency rate for electricity generation (coal fired power-plants achieve around the same at 30%-35%). Over 99% of all the incoming material is used for electricity, heat, recovered minerals or construction material. The remaining 1% is trucked to the salt mines in Germany.
The AEB facility is located next to the Waste Water Treatment Plant for a reason. These two facilities have a symbiotic relationship where the water is heated at and then transferred for district heating. Homes that are outfitted for district heating use the water to heat their homes. By 2030 40,000 additional homes will be converted to the 10,000 already in use.
I was lucky to receive a tour of this plant. Many other countries routinely ask for tours and are intrigued by this system. The UK is considering bringing portions of their waste to the AEB, as it would be less harmful then adding additional landfills. Afican
This system works so well partially because of the long term contracts with the waste haulers. Contracts are negotiated for 15 year terms which ensures longer term supplies of waste. At any given time 3 days of burning material is in reserve. The goal is to keep the fires going at all hours.
Burying waste isn’t a option in Holland. For over 100 years they have refined waste burning into a very efficient process. Of course I would like to see the organic waste processed into compost. Surprisingly organic waste is valued by AEB for the moisture it supplies, approximately 38% of the waste is organic. So they make electricity with organics instead of soil. If you want to recycle your yard waste in Amsterdam there is a composting facility 1 mile north that would be happy to take it off your hands.