The role of waste to energy in driving a circular economy

Waste to energy is one of the circular economy solutions that can have economic, social, and environmental co-benefits through efficient use of natural resources, reduced emissions, job creation, and fostering innovation



By Dr Salem Al Kaabi

Published: Wed 14 Sep 2022, 10:25 PM

The world has seen a wide range of initiatives and collaborative efforts to minimise the impact of waste on sustainable development and use it as a resource to bring about further benefits for humanity. Therefore, it is important to look out for methods to recover energy from waste and reduce reliance on landfills, to ensure proper waste management that supports a circular economy and a sustainable energy ecosystem.

The UAE is a key player in the adoption of a circular economy and supporting its application across different industries. In 2021, the UAE government launched the Circular Economy Policy to ensure proper and efficient use of natural resources and products, as part of its efforts to promote environmental health, support the adoption of clean production methods, and achieve the country’s vision to be a global pioneer of green growth and sustainable development. The policy is expected to support the country’s economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, while mitigating environmental impact.

Waste to energy is one of the circular economy solutions that can have economic, social, and environmental co-benefits through efficient use of natural resources, reduced emissions, job creation, and fostering innovation. Waste-to-energy facilities play a key role in generating clean energy, by substituting coal and natural gas plants, which directly impact climate change and the environment. In addition, these facilities support avoiding traditional waste disposal methods, like the diversion of waste to landfills, and enable resources recovery, which supports the circular economy model.

The Abu Dhabi Waste Management Center (Tadweer) is constantly working on launching initiatives and developing projects that turn waste liabilities into economic assets, in line with the UAE’s Circular Economy Policy. Tadweer, in cooperation with the Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC), is developing a waste-to-energy power plant. The plant will convert 75 per cent of waste to energy via a high-efficiency steam turbine generator set, using advanced moving grate technology. The waste-to-energy plant, which will be one of the largest waste-to-energy facilities in the region, will process 900,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste per year, and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 1.5 million tonnes per year, contributing to the mitigation of climate change.

Tadweer and EWEC’s waste-to-energy plant also supports the country’s Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to increase the contribution of clean energy from 25 per cent to 50 per cent by 2050 and reduce carbon footprint of power generation by 70 per cent, thus saving Dh700 billion by 2050.

With its megaprojects, the UAE has established its position as a key player in the adoption of a circular economy and meeting the growing energy demand. This comes in line with the UAE’s forward-looking vision to ensure the country’s sustainable economic development.

Dr Salem Al Kaabi is Acting Director-General of Abu Dhabi Waste Management Center


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