Awaste-to-energy (WTE) plant in the picturesque city of Noshahr, Mazandaran Province, has come on stream, a deputy governor said.

The plant can handle 200,000 tons per day of waste produced in the cities of Noshahr, Chalous and Kelardasht (all three major tourist attractions) and generates about three megawatts of electricity per hour, IRNA reported Mehdi Zarjouyan as saying.

This is the first of such plants in the northern province. Another waste-to-energy plant is also being constructed there.

“With a capacity to burn 450,000 tons of waste per day, the plant is located in the provincial capital Sari,” Zarjouyan said.

“The plant is 80% complete and is expected to come online next year,” he added.

Mazandaran produces about 3,000 tons of trash per day. “With completion of the Sari plant, about 30% of the waste produced in the province will be converted into energy.”

A waste-to-energy plant is a facility that converts solid waste into electricity and/or heat – an ecological, cost-effective way of energy recovery. This is being increasingly considered as a potential energy diversification approach as nations struggle to curb carbon emissions, climate change and its dangerous impact on health and wellness.

Mountain of Waste

Iran is taking small but steady steps to expand WTE facilities. Five waste-to-energy plants are operating in Tehran, Shiraz and Mashhad, and plans are underway to increase such facilities, following the government’s move to substitute fossil-fuel power generation with cleaner and environmentally-friendly methods.

Annually 21 million tons of household waste, 32 million tons industrial waste, 8 million tons of hazardous waste and 170,000 tons of medical waste is produced in Iran.

According to data from the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Organization (Satba), Iran has the capacity to generate more than 10,000 MW from biomass (fuel made from organic materials), including at least 400 MW from waste material.

Incinerating a ton of waste can produce 500-600 kilowatts of electricity per hour. Burning garbage also helps avoid water and soil contamination.

According to studies, an incineration plant with 1 MW capacity can reduce carbon emission by 50,000 tons per year, whereas a wind plant with the same capacity can reduce the same emission by 5,000 tons at the most.

Most garbage in Iran is traditionally buried in landfills. But as the population grows so does the mountain of waste. Municipalities across the world are fighting against time to find effective and sustainable solutions.

Iran needs more incineration plants to help manage waste and prevent accumulation in landfills. By burning garbage, contamination of water and soil through leachate — generated from decomposition of garbage — can be avoided.

According to the Sixth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2016-2021), Iran should produce 700 MW from waste-to-energy power plants.

Worldwide, waste-to-energy plants comprise nearly six out of every 10 facilities processing garbage from homes, schools and businesses. Almost 44% of the operating and soon-to-be-built facilities that process this stream of trash — called municipal solid waste — are incinerators that burn the waste to make energy, according to a United Nations report.