Norwegian Waste-to-Energy: Climate change, circular economy and carbon capture and storage
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionResources, Conservation and Recycling. 2017, 126 50-61. 10.1016/j.resconrec.2017.07.025
Recently, the European Commission has adopted a Circular Economy package. In addition, climate change is regarded as a major global challenge, and the de-carbonization of the energy sector requires a massive transformation that involves an increase of renewable shares in the energy mix and the incorporation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) processes. Given all this strong new momentum, what will the Norwegian waste-to-energy (WtE) look like in a decade? What threats and opportunities are foreseen? In an attempt to answer these questions, this study combines process-based life-cycle assessment with analysis of the overall energy and material balances, mathematical optimization and cost assessment in four scenarios: (1) the current situation of the Norwegian WtE sector, (2) the implications of the circular economy, (3) the addition of CCS on the current WtE system and (4) a landfill scenario. Except for climate change, the CCS scenario performs worse than the WtE scenario. The energy recovering scenarios perform better than the recycling scenario for (1) freshwater eutrophication and human toxicity potentials due to secondary waste streams and (2) ozone depletion potential due to the additional fossil fuel used in the recycling processes. The inclusion of the near-term climate forcers decreases the climate change impacts by 1% to 13% due to a net cooling mainly induced by NOx. Circular economy may actually give the WtE system the opportunity to strengthen and expand its role towards new or little developed value chains such as secondary raw materials production and valorization of new waste streams occurring in material recycling.