The potential of waste-to-energy in reducing GHG emissions
Background: The combustion of municipal solid waste (MSW) to generate heat or electricity (waste-to-energy [WTE]) could reduce net GHG emissions in the USA compared with combusting methane from landfills. Moreover, negative CO 2 emissions could be achieved with CCS because 66% of the carbon in MSW is typically biogenic. Results and conclusion: For the five largest landfill sites in each state, we estimate that at least 58 and 11 sites have enough MSW to fuel WTE plants of >50 MWe and >100 MWe, respectively. Furthermore, half of these sites lie within 20 km of potential underground saline and other CO 2 storage reservoirs. We estimate that the levelized electricity cost for WTE without CO 2 capture is US$94/MWh and is $285/MWh with amine-based post-combustion capture technology. The cost of CO 2 capture is $58/Mg CO 2, resulting in a cost for carbon negative emissions of $93/Mg CO 2; substantially lower than for some geoengineering methods, including capturing CO 2 from air. © 2012 Future Science Ltd.