European waste-to-energy market thriving, 100 new plants
planned by 2012
Waste management in Europe is no longer a haulage and
disposal business. The legislative shifts of the past decade have seen
major moves towards the implementation of advanced technology and innovative
In spite of the importance of waste minimization schemes, as well as
recycling and bisological waste treatment, many local and regional authorities
currently view waste to energy (thermal waste incineration with energy
recovery) as the only viable large scale alternative to landfilling.
According to Frost & Sullivan studies in this sector, the waste-to-energy
market in Europe is growing and will continue to do so for at least 10
years. Europe’s waste-to-energy capacity is expected to increase by around
13 million tons. Almost 100 new plants will come on line by 2012.
“Across Europe, the public sector is the traditional owner of waste-to-energy
facilities,” explains John Raspin, Energy and Environment Practice Director
at Frost & Sullivan. “This is changing, as large-scale investment
is required to construct newer, environmentally friendly facilities.
It is equally true that the importance of being able to sell profitably
the electricity/heat generated from such plants is driving the attractiveness
of investment and favoring partnerships with utility companies. Waste-to-energy
facilities are increasingly becoming profitable cash generators in their
The result is that private sector companies are taking a greater responsibility
in the sector, although to date investors have been mainly from a background
in utilities, engineering and/or technology. At the same time, public
sector outsourcing is also on the increase and private sector capital
is increasingly being sought.
The waste-to-energy services market supported about 200 to 250 players
in 2007. Much of the reason behind this low number (low compared to other
waste management service segments) is the use of large centralized facilities
in many parts of Western Europe for the incineration of municipal solid
waste (MSW). However, the number of companies is growing as the network
of thermal units in many countries is expanded.
“The ongoing move away from landfill” concludes John Raspin “is continuing
to attract technological innovation and the current leaning towards waste
to energy in many parts of Europe is attracting major capital investment
with improving opportunities for returns. It is inevitable that we will
see further consolidation of the market and that investors from a whole
range of backgrounds will continue to be drawn to this sustainable growth