Waste-to-Value Plants can help the Greater Bay Area achieve sustainable development goals
Global warming is expected to have far-reaching, long-lasting and, in many cases, devastating consequences for planet Earth. Global warming, the gradual heating of Earth’s surface, oceans and atmosphere, is caused by the burning of fossil fuels that pump carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. We are seeing more forest fires in California, much warmer winter in Hong Kong and melting of the arctic ice sheets. The need to slow down or even reverse global warming is urgent. We believe that Waste-to-Energy technology is an important part of the solution.
Carbon emission reduction target
Under the global initiatives from the Paris Agreement reached in 2016 (1), the Chinese government announced a series of targets to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within the country. This announcement aligned initiatives from other countries to limit global warming to below 2°C increment. In December 2020, the China government further indicated a strong commitment to the world by setting new targets to reach a peak in GHG emissions by 2030 and become carbon-neutral by 2060. The announcement was applauded throughout the world as China is one of the largest GHG emitting countries. (2)
Hong Kong follows China’s obligations to the Paris Agreement by announcing a goal to reach net zero emission by 2060. (3) The Hong Kong government also delivered a Climate Action Plan to emphasize energy-saving, waste-less and low-carbon lifestyles, aiming to keep the temperature rise below 2°C. A carbon emission reduction target of 26% to 36%, by 2030 using 2005 as the base has been announced. In fact, 70% of the carbon emission in Hong Kong is produced by the local power plants. Using clean energy for power generation may be the most effective way for meeting carbon emission reduction targets.
China has newly installed 2,200 Gigawatts of electric power generation capacity in 2020. It has increased 27.6% in the past 10 years, according to Statista data. (4) In China, 40% of the carbon emission is produced by power plants. Coal-fired power generators are the main source of electricity and main source of carbon emission in China. Coal power plants are highly polluting. They contribute over 73% of energy generation in the whole country. To support the national emission reduction scheme, fossil fuel and coal-fired energy productions must be replaced by clean energy. The Chinese government aims to increase renewable energy generation capacity substantially. Besides using hydropower, wind power, solar power, biogas and nuclear power, will there be other better clean energy options?
Urban Waste Another Huge Problem
At the same time, the fast development of China in the recent decades creates prosperity but also a huge rise in the amount of disposed waste. (5) Generating clean energy using disposed waste may kill two birds with one stone!
GBA’s Role in Reducing Emission of GHG
The Greater Bay Area (GBA) of China, representing 10.8% of China’s total GDP, is having a tough carbon emission target and is suffering from a high volume of disposed waste. The map below displays the specific reduction goals announced by China’s National Development and Reform Commission. The Guangdong province, which is part of the GBA, is required to reduce 18% of GHG emission.
Specific GHG Reduction Goals by Province
Clean Energy in China
China plans to spend over USD1.5 trillion to build more clean energy generation plants. Government investments will flow through the channels of state-owned investment vehicles, financial institutions and sovereign wealth funds. Foreign companies can participate in this great business opportunity via project investments as well as merger & acquisition. The demand for clean energy development and waste management lead to a tremendous investment opportunity in the area of waste-to-energy technology.
The Chinese government has been investing in hydropower on a large scale in the past. Hydropower contributes more than 22% of total energy supply. Three Gorges Dam, Xiluodu and Xiangjiaba were massive construction projects. However, they caused social and environmental issues to the local residents, including population relocation, ecological disruption, arable land conscription, etc. Protests from environmentalists never stop.
China is the largest producer of solar panels in the world. However, solar energy accounts for less than 0.01% of total domestic energy production in China. China is also the biggest wind energy producer in the world. Unfortunately, solar and wind energy generators are not stable as they are dependent on the weather condition. To encourage clean energy production, the renewable energy producers can also receive feed-in-tariff for electricity sold to the coal-fired electricity generators.
China is also one of the largest nuclear power producers in the world. As of September 2021, It is operating 51 nuclear reactors and is building another 28. (6) Nuclear power contributes around 5% of the total electricity supply in the country. Unfortunately, most of the nuclear power plants in China are located on the coast near densely populated cities. The Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant is in fact only 47.5 km from Hong Kong, even closer to Shenzhen and Guangzhou. It represents a threat to major cities. Moreover, nuclear waste may harm the society in the long term.
The Waste-to-High Value Output Technology from EnerWaste
All these policies favor EnerWaste, a company targeting the GBA market in partnership with OMNI Conversion Technology Inc., leveraging their proprietary GPRS™ system that can generate waste-to-high value outputs like clean fuels and materials. (7)
We believe a modern waste-to-high value output plant is an attractive and viable alternative to other clean energy options. Waste-to-high value output plant is a waste management facility that converts waste to clean fuels while avoiding hazardous waste generation and having zero air pollution. The cost of this technology has come down significantly and is now a viable commercial option for clean energy generation.
EnerWaste Asia Pacific Limited is majority owned by Urban Gateway Energy Limited (UGE), a Hong Kong private equity firm formed by a group of environmentally conscious investors. EnerWaste intends to build a series of Waste-to-Clean Hydrogen plants, starting in Foshan. These plants consume all kinds of waste inputs (omnivorous) and produce a clean OMNISyngas™ in addition OMNIRock™ (a non-hazardous aggregate) and plain water. The OMNISyngas™ in turn can be converted to clean hydrogen, in addition to other clean fuels such as methanol, diesel, etc. Clean hydrogen has the following applications:
- Fuel for fuel cell vehicles
- Energy storage
- Steel production
- Blending with natural gas to increase efficiency
The OMNI technology has the following advantages:
- Zero emissions — a large differentiator from incineration to power plants
- Omnivorous — type of feedstock does not matter, including hazardous waste, reducing supply risk and another large differentiator from incineration to power plants
- Efficient — uses 75% less electricity when compared to electrolysis — the most popular method to creating clean hydrogen
- Low Carbon — only pathway with potential to develop negative carbon hydrogen
- Flexible — can make methanol, diesel and other fuels/materials depending on local market needs.
Enerwaste’s platform simultaneously solves two problems: Disposing of waste in a most environmentally friendly manner while producing clean hydrogen at scale cost-effectively. In fact, in the 9 Oct 2021 issue of the Economist, demand for hydrogen is expected to expand more than five times in the next 30 years. China will see a huge increase in demand for hydrogen.
EnerWaste is well positioned to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
EnerWaste is addressing the same landfill and methane mitigation issues as incinerators, however, has chosen to use a proven technology that instead of incinerating waste to make steam and then electricity, converts waste to clean syngas with zero air emissions in addition to a non-hazardous solid waste by-product and water. This clean syngas can then be further converted to clean hydrogen — one of the most important clean energy sources of the future. It is important to note that the EnerWaste platform also uses 75% less electricity compared to electrolysis, the current leading technology for producing clean hydrogen. This is important for two reasons, first, not every province or city government has access to renewable energy (required for electrolysis) and by using electricity much more efficiency significantly reduces the strain on the power grid, of particular importance given the state of power supply in China.
The EnerWaste platform provides local governments the ability to turn their waste, including hazardous wastes incineration cannot process (e.g. tires, plastics, medical waste, etc.) into a high value energy source — clean hydrogen, which is a cornerstone of any clean energy future.
EnerWaste addresses Goal 7 (Affordable Clean Energy) by having one of the only platforms today that can produce green hydrogen that is aligned with China’s cost and sustainability goals. The EnerWaste platform is also unique, not only due to its highly proprietary technology that converts waste to hydrogen, but because of its ability to integrate with incineration, electrolysis and other technologies, creating innovative green energy infrastructure projects delivering on Goal 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure). Finally, the EnerWaste platform is uniquely designed to help new and existing communities develop circular economies, where all waste is converted to something of value to the local community and delivering on both Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production).
Carbon Credit Finance
The Chinese government’s initiative to cut GHG emission reduction has put coal-fired power generating companies under the spotlight. To encourage the coal-fired power generating companies to become more efficient, they were allocated a free emission allowance in 2019–2020. They can sell their emission quota to other emitters who like to exhaust extra GHG emission. Now, China’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which is the biggest ETS in the world, expands into chemicals, iron, steel, building materials and civil aviation industries. ETS is considered as a cost-efficient way to help achieve the emission reduction target in China. In addition, the government can earn income and allow economic freedom emitters to purchase emission quotas. This ETS scheme has already been imposed in 7 provinces that are Guangdong, Shenzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing and Hubei. They account for 25% of China’s total GDP. Guangdong is the only province that implements the ETS and imposes green finance policy. Carbon futures contracts were first launched in Guangzhou Futures Exchanges (GFEX) in April 2021.
According to the MSCI, the GHG emission from the corporate sector remains significantly above the national 2030 peak emission level and 2060 carbon neutrality target. The Chinese government needs to impose stricter rules to control their carbon usage. Eventually, all companies with carbon intensive production may require to purchase carbon credit from clean energy companies to offset their excess emissions in the near future.
Waste-to-High Value Output generation initiatives may earn carbon credits if they generate zero emission. Electric vehicle manufacturers in the US, such as Tesla, sell carbon credit to sustain its operation. Income earned from cardon credit can be spent on new project subsidies as well as new technology development.
Ideal solution at the right time
EnerWaste is the right company at the right time. It is trying to solve two urgent problems facing China: waste disposal and demand for clean hydrogen. Its partner’s proprietary technology is environmentally friendly, cost competitive, reliable and cost competitive. We are glad that EnerWaste will start their first project in Foshan. EnerWaste will help the GBA fulfil its obligation to fight climate change. By working with EnerWaste, waste management companies, fuel cells transit business and other companies may benefit from carbon credits. EnerWaste will also grow the carbon finance market in China.
Interview with the Chairman & CEO of OMNI Conversion Technologies, Rod Bryden, to discuss how the innovative technology fits with the energy mix and carbon footprint reduction.
Written by: Ms. Florence Ip, Dr. Kyle Wong
(1) The Paris Agreement and China Commitment
In 2016, the Paris Agreement announced their global goals to keep the average temperature increase well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. This agreement also required governments to review their actions every 5 years in order. In a worst case scenario, if the temperature target from the Paris Agreement is not met and the accelerating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue, Hong Kong Observatory predicts that annual mean temperature will rise by 3°C to 6°C by the end of this century in Hong Kong. A statistical study conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that an average of 1°C increase above the mean temperature of 28.2°C was associated with an estimated 1.8°C increase in mortality. The higher the temperature still, the higher the mortality rate. Global warming is indeed a matter of life and death.
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