Waste-to-energy market slows down

Throughout the world, there are almost 2,200 waste incineration plants. They have a disposal capacity of about 255 million tons of waste per year. By 2017, approximately about 180 plants with a capacity of about 52 million annual tons will be constructed additionally. Nevertheless, the WtE market will slow down, especially in Europe. This is the result of a new study by ecoprog GmbH.

The worldwide WtE market will continue to grow until 2015, when approximately about 45 incineration plants with a capacity of around 15 million annual tons will go on line. Afterwards, however, the growth will slow down, especially in Europe where the commissioning of new capacities will decrease from about 3.5 million annual tons in 2015 to less than 2 million annual tons in 2017.


The increasingly saturated British market will particularly decline in the future. Today, this market still is the main stimulus of growth in Europe. It compensated the industry when the development of incineration capacities in countries such as Germany or the Netherlands had stopped.

After 2015/2016 at the latest, however, the demand from the United Kingdom can be expected to gradually slow down. By contrast, the number of WtE projects in Eastern Europe will increase; in the medium term, however, these markets will not lead to a new construction volume of the same extent.

In other potential growth markets (Spain or France for instance), the pressure from the European Union to implement the EU Landfill Directive is not yet strong enough. Furthermore, funds are limited in these countries due to the euro crisis.

Overall, investments in the construction of new incineration plants in Europe will decrease by about 40 per cent to around one billion euros by 2017. In the same year, the market for maintenance and renewals of existing plants will for the first time reach a volume of the same size.

The plant manufacturers notice this market development already today. They still assess their current business situation to be positive but perceive their business backlog especially to be too low. An industry barometer, which ecoprog has elaborated together with the operators association CEWEP and the industrial association ESWET, comes to this result as well. The barometer will be published on the institutions' websites in the near future.

Outside of Europe, China will remain the most important market in the years to come. In the coming five years, about 125 new plants with a capacity of 40 million annual tons will be commissioned in China – per year. The Chinese WtE market is on a high level, even though the domestic information on the incineration capacities has to be relativised due to the low calorific value of the Chinese waste. With a volume of about 15.4 billion euros, the Chinese market will in the coming five years remain smaller than the European one (17.8 billion euros). This is also due to the markets' different technical standards.

Altogether, the demand from Europe and East Asia will continue to dominate the world market. Outside of these regions, there is only sporadic demand for disposal solutions in thermal waste

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