Three companies that submitted the final bids informed that only 14 units of power could be generated from one tonne of waste, which was found to be below expectation.
A solution to the vexed problem of solid waste management in the city seems distant as the government continues to be in the dark on the technology to be adopted at the proposed new plant in Brahamapuram.
Efforts to initiate a waste-to-energy plant based on incineration method have backfired after the three companies that submitted the final bids informed that only 14 units of power could be generated from one tonne of waste.
The Department of Urban Affairs, which termed the estimates as below expectations, had pointed out that at least 300 units could be generated through the processing of one tonne of solid waste.
The setting up of the plant will be delayed as even the implementation of the ‘Swiss challenge’ approach of competitive bidding will not be an attractive option for prospective bidders because the solid waste generated in the city is not suitable for incineration. It is also not properly segregated.
Companies have informed the authorities that waste-to-energy plants need high capital cost requiring continuous utilisation and availability. Potential investors also fear negative public perception towards stack omission from waste-to-energy plants.
V. N. Sivasankara Pillai, former Director of School of Environmental Studies at Cochin University of Science and Technology, said waste to energy plants had not worked in the country. Moreover, the local bodies here had failed to conduct proper characterization and quantification of solid waste, he said.
Greens had also pointed out earlier that waste incinerators produce several hazardous by-products, including dioxins and heavy metals. The burning of waste would have an adverse impact on areas nearby the plant where thousands reside, they said.
Despite the disadvantages, the Department of Urban Affairs is trying to invite companies interested in setting up waste-to-energy plants, thanks to the Union government’s decision to support cities and municipalities to take up waste-to-energy projects in public private partnership.