Bee’ah’s Waste to Energy plans are on track
With a completion date of 2021 set, Bee’ah and Masdar join forces to build and operate a state-of-the-art waste-to-energy plant, closing the loop of a circular economy.
A little over a year ago, Bee'ah and Masdar embarked on a path that would transform the region's approach to the management of waste, and create a new source of renewable energy.
They announced the launch of their joint venture, the Emirates Waste to Energy Company, which would introduce waste-to-energy (WtE)projects across the region, starting with the establishment of the UAE’s first WtE facility in Sharjah. Diverting more than 300,000 tonnes of waste from landfill every year, this facility will produce over 30 MW of energy every year and power thousands of homes in Sharjah.
HE Khaled Al Huraimel, group CEO of Bee’ah, says the WtE plant will be a one-of-its-kind facility in the entire Middle East; and the efforts put in by the environmental management company fortify its commitment towards revolutionising the concept of a circular economy in the UAE.
“In the waste management hierarchy, collection of waste is the first step, followed by segregation and processing and finally, the disposal of waste. Most companies struggle with the final step — which is disposal of waste — and the common option is landfilling,” Al Huraimel says.
Choosing to divert waste to landfill, however, results in severe repercussions on the environment, primarily constituted by the generation of harmful greenhouse gases that pollute the atmosphere. “As part of applying a holistic approach to waste management, we have implemented the best and most optimum solution to address this issue — waste to energy. We believe that WtE can act as a key enabler in achieving the UAE’s strategic objective of diverting 75% of waste away from the landfill,” he states.
In implementing this solution, Sharjah has its own strategic objective; which is to be the first city in the Middle East to achieve zero waste to landfill status.
Mohammed Bin Kuwair, senior manager of yechnical projects at Bee'ah said: “Waste-to-energy is a process by which we extract the heat out of waste and generate power out of it. There are a lot of technologies in the market, and the most feasible and practical technology is incineration. Through incineration, we will process around 300,000 tonnes of waste per year and generate power in the bargain. This means we are able to achieve two goals at one time; we are not only getting rid of our waste but also generating power in a safe and environment-friendly manner.”
Different WtE technologies are available in the market today, and despite its implementation in developed countries, Bin Kuwair explains why WtE hasn’t been prevalent in the region until recently. “Waste-to-energy as a technology is complex and comes with a set of risks, which need to be taken into account by the different entities involved in its implementation. The technology has been available to countries in Europe and the US for a long time. However, the opportunity for it to be implemented in the region with the utmost compliance to environmental regulations has only recently become feasible. That’s because our cities are growing rapidly, and the amount of waste is exponentially increasing,” he notes, adding that WtE is a means to move past the practice of landfilling.
The complexities do not end there, as funding projects where profitability is not the main objective pose a definite challenge. Despite that, Bee’ah remains focused on the positives of the project. “The number one objective in waste-to-energy technology is to reduce the impact on the environment. The environment is invaluable and we cannot afford to speak of financials in determining its preservation. This is not a profit-oriented project, and the end goal of sustainability, makes all our efforts worth it,” Al Huraimel says.
However, Bee’ah and Masdar have successfully secured financing commitments for the project, while the design, build and operate contract has been awarded to Constructions Industrielles de la Méditerranée (CNIM), a French engineering company who specialises in waste-to-energy. When ready, the WtE plant will be another tool in Bee’ah’s arsenal, towards advancing its concept of a circular economy.
“In a circular economy the output of any process is considered as a valuable input for another process. At Bee’ah, we are looking at changing the mindset of waste management to resource management,” Al Huraimel concludes.