An optimization-based analysis of waste to energy options for different income level countries
Utilizing waste-to-energy (WtE) technologies is becoming crucial in today's world where energy sources are scarce. Despite the fact that WtE technologies (incineration, gasification, pyrolysis, anaerobic digestion, and landfill gas recovery) have been analyzed thoroughly in the literature regarding their efficiency rates in treating waste, the applicability of each method to different waste compositions and in various economic environments has not been considered before. In this study, this issue is investigated by modeling and solving a mixed integer programming model. The model is illustrated in three settings, namely Turkey, Brazil, and Germany, each of which is an example of a lower middle income, upper middle income, and a high income country, respectively. The findings of the optimization model suggest that plasma-arc gasification and advanced incineration stand out as the most efficient technologies to create the WtE conversion, provided that there are sufficient funds to build and run these facilities. If there are economic restraints, anaerobic digestion could be a more cost-effective way to create energy from waste. However, the solutions can be highly dependent on the parameters of the problem, as indicated in the results of the sensitivity analysis performed. In particular, if CO2 emissions are a big concern, the optimization model favors more of plasma-arc and pyrolysis technologies. Novelty Statement Despite a wide range of previous studies involving technical analysis of WtE technologies, an economic perspective involving facility building decisions comparing different income level countries has not been performed before. This study examines all waste-to-energy methods in the literature not only regarding their efficiency rates in treating waste but also selecting the most appropriate methodology in different settings. In this manner, considering different income level countries brings a proper perspective and novelty to the study.