Waste-to-Energy Prospects in Oman
Waste management is a challenging environmental and public health issue for the Sultanate of Oman. With population of almost 3 million inhabitants, the country produces almost 2 million tons of solid waste each year, with one of the highest per capita waste generation globally.
Municipal solid waste in Oman is characterized by very high percentage of recyclables, primarily paper (26%), plastics (12%), metals (11%) and glass (5%). Municipal solid waste is a very good source of biomass in Oman as more than 50% of the solid waste is contributed by organic matter.
Unrealised Potential of MSW
Oman is yet to realize the monetary potential of its municipal waste stream, neither through recycling nor waste-to-energy. Most of the garbage is sent to authorized and unauthorized dumpsites for disposal which is creating environment and health issues. There are several dumpsites which are located in the midst of residential areas or close to catchment areas of private and public drinking water bodies.
Solid waste management scenario in Oman is marked by lack of collection and disposal facilities. Solid waste, industrial waste, medical wastes, scrap tyres, e-wastes etc are deposited in scores of landfills scattered across the country. Oman has around 350 landfills/dumpsites which are managed by municipalities. In addition, there are numerous unauthorized dumpsites in Oman where all sorts of wastes are recklessly dumped.
In Oman, municipal solid waste can be converted into energy by conventional technologies (such as incineration, mass-burn, anaerobic digestion and landfill gas capture). Municipal solid waste can also be efficiently converted into energy and fuels by advanced thermal technologies, such as gasification and pyrolysis.
At the landfill sites, the gas produced by the natural decomposition of MSW can collected from the stored material and scrubbed and cleaned before feeding into internal combustion engines or gas turbines to generate heat and power. In addition, the organic fraction of MSW can be anaerobically stabilized in a high-rate digester to obtain biogas for electricity or steam generation.
Anaerobic digestion is the most preferred option to extract energy from sewage, which leads to production of biogas and organic fertilizer. The sewage sludge that remains can be incinerated or gasified/pyrolyzed to produce more energy. In addition, sewage-to-energy processes also facilitate water recycling.
The variety of technological options available means that waste-to-energy in Oman can be applied at a small, localized scale primarily for heat, or it can be used in much larger base-load power generation capacity whilst also producing heat. Waste-to-energy conversion can thus be tailored to rural or urban environments in Oman, and utilized in domestic, commercial or industrial applications across the country.
Salman Zafar is an ecopreneur, consultant, advisor, speaker and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection, conservation and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe. Salman is the Founder of EcoMENA, a popular voluntary organization based in Qatar. He is also the Founder and CEO of BioEnergy Consult, a reputed consulting firm active in biomass, waste-to-energy and waste management segments.
Salman is a professional environmental writer with more than 350 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass environmental awareness in different parts of the world.
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