What can we do with 4 mio tons of CO2 per Year?

This was the question asked by VBSA. VBSA represents all 30 waste-to-energy (WtE) plants currently in operation in Switzerland. Together, these 30 WtE plants emit a total of approximately 4.4 million tons of CO2 per year - about half of these emissions are fossil-based, and the other half biogenic. 

The results in a nutshell: 

  • Decarbonization of the waste sector will need to come from capturing CO2 emissions at WtE plants, as the total quantity of waste for incineration is not expected to go down materially until 2050

  • Swiss WtE plants are already embedded in the energy system and could can help enable the transition to renewables

  • CO2 capture is a commercially available technology starting at a cost of CHF 68 per ton of CO2 excl. cost of purification and liquefaction

  • We scanned three broad options to deal with the captured CO2:  Utilization for generation of eMethane, eMethanol; Carbonation and deep geological storage

  • Conversion to eMethane and eMethanol are not feasible at the required scale due to energy requirements and temporary nature of CO2 storage

  • Large-scale carbonation of CO2 was not found to be practicable in Switzerland

  • Geological storage of CO2 in Switzerland is unlikely to become available over the next 10-20 years

  • As an alternative to storage in Switzerland, northern European offshore storage projects might become an option within the next few years

  • Costs are expected to be high in the beginning and need further investigation

  • If implemented, CCS on waste to energy plants could unlock faster pathways to a carbon neutral future for other sectors like cement, heavy transport and heat

In conclusion: The most promising path to drastically reduce CO2 emissions from  Swiss WtE plants appears to be capturing CO2, enabling its transport to northern Europe and storing it permanently in suitable geological formations.

This approach should be extended to other large point sources in Switzerland, like cement production and other “hard to decarbonise” large CO2 point sources.

Results were validated in a stakeholder workshop with participants from industry, academia and other organizations, including, ETH, Industrielle Werke Basel, IET Institut für Energietechnik, Swiss RE, Limeco, WWF, Rytec AG, BAFU

 

Whitepaper

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