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UAE waste-to-energy plant starts transmitting electricity

Dubai waste-to-energy WAM
Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan inaugurated the waste-to-energy facility, tweeting it will “build a more sustainable future”
  • Facility will power 135,000 UAE homes once fully operational
  • $1bn plant will treat 1.9m tonnes of waste or 75% of landfill
  • Sharjah unit also opened and Abu Dhabi project on the way

The first electricity transmission to the UAE’s national power grid has been delivered from Dubai’s $1 billion waste-to-energy facility as the emirate seeks to reduce its landfill dependence.

Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI) and its joint venture partner Besix made the announcement on Tuesday, saying that the Dubai Waste Management Centre will power 135,000 homes in the UAE once fully operational in July 2024.

The new plant – one of three at various stages of development in the UAE – will treat over 1.9 million tonnes of waste, helping Dubai achieve its goal of 75 percent landfill diversion by 2025.

Ten waste-to-energy projects with an aggregate budget of $5.9 billion are being planned across the Middle East and North Africa, according to data by regional projects tracker Meed Projects.

Urban waste generation in Middle East countries is estimated at more than 150 million tonnes a year.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait all rank in the world’s top 10 of solid waste generation per capita, according to BioEnergy Consult.

With 2,200 construction workers on site, commissioning is proceeding on two of the Dubai facility’s five combustion lines, with the other three following “in due course”, according to a joint statement. 

Dubai waste-to-energyDWMC
Dubai waste-to-energy plant is one of three at various stages of development in the UAE 

Deliveries of 2,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste are arriving each day. 

Last month the project teams hosted Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan, who officially inaugurated the facility.

He tweeted that Dubai was committed to deploying advanced technologies to “build a brighter and more sustainable future”.

“To send the first electricity to the UAE’s national grid is a huge achievement for HZI and Besix,” Roni Araiji, HZI’s managing director Middle East, said. 

“Next year this plant will deliver reliable baseload energy that will power around 135,000 homes.

“It will help Dubai and the UAE to meet their environmental and landfill diversion goals.”

Dawood Al Hajri, director general of Dubai Municipality, described the project as a “manifestation of our fruitful collaboration” with the private sector. 

“This ambitious investment reflects Dubai’s understanding of environmental and sustainability imperatives,” Al Hajri said.

Abu Dhabi is also exploring waste-to-energy projects, with state-owned Emirates Water and Electricity Company (Ewec) and Abu Dhabi Waste Management Company receiving bids for the first plant in the emirate.

The project, which will be built near the landfill site in Al Dhafra, will have an expected annual processing capacity of 900,000 tonnes of waste to generate enough electricity to power up to 52,500 households.

Ewec said it initially received a total of 109 expressions of interest from potential bidders for the project which has a target commercial launch date of late 2026.

Sharjah is also using the technology and since its inauguration last year, the Sharjah Waste to Energy plant has generated enough energy to power over 2,000 homes.

Once fully operational, the Beeah and Masdar-backed project will help turn 300,000 tonnes of waste into energy annually, enough to power 28,000 homes in the UAE.

More plants planned in the region

Egypt has signed contracts for the country’s first waste-to-energy plant to be located in Abu Rawash in Giza.

The proposed $120 million power plant will process 1,200 tonnes a day of household waste to generate 30MW of electricity.

French firm Veolia has been awarded the contract for the operation and maintenance of Turkey’s first waste-to-energy plant in Istanbul which will be the largest in Europe and will produce electricity for 1.4 million people.

Qatar was the first to embrace waste-to-energy technology when it commissioned the $522 million Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre in 2011 where more than 95 percent of waste is either reclaimed or converted into energy.

Oman Power & Water Procurement Company and Oman Environmental Service Holding Company revived a plant in Barkah in March 2022 after temporarily suspending the plan in 2020.

In Bahrain, 15 companies responded to a pre-qualification questionnaire in September 2022 for a planned integrated waste facility which will include a waste-to-energy component.

The kingdom first announced a vision to build a waste energy and desalination facility in Askar in 2010 but it was put on hold in 2014. It has since been revived, with design and consultancy bids requested in early 2020.

Veolia Middle East said in 2021 that it was finalising work in Saudi Arabia on a waste-to-energy facility for Sadara Chemical Company as part of Saudi Investment Recycling Company’s plans to generate 3GW of waste-to-energy capacity by 2030.

And in Kuwait, a consortium was selected in 2017 as the preferred investor for the Kabd Municipal Solid Waste Project which aims to generate approximately 100MW of electric power but they later withdrew.

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