Project Description

Potential and cost of electricity generation from human and animal waste in Spain

Gómez, A.; Zubizarreta, J.; Rodrigues, M.; Dopazo, C.; Fueyo, N.

Renewable Energy. 2010


The energy contents of human and animal waste generated in Spain is estimated, as is the electricity that could be potentially generated from such waste. The waste considered is municipal solid waste, sewage sludge and livestock manure; several energy-recovery options are analyzed for the first one, viz the collection of landfill gas, incineration and anaerobic digestion. To estimate the potential, we use geo-referenced statistical human and animal population data disaggregated to the county level. This level of disaggregation allows the implementation of a cost model for the transformation of the waste into electricity, using a variety of technologies. The model considers the cost of transporting the waste to the transformation plant, and takes into account the economies of scale afforded by larger plants for the combined treatment of the waste in the county. The result is a generation-cost curve, which sorts by increasing costs the generation potential in the whole of the territory. The overall limits, in terms of primary energy and without considering alternative uses for the waste are between 725 and 4438 ktoe/y (depending on the energy-recovery method) for municipal solid waste; 142 ktoe/y for sewage sludge; and 1794 ktoe/y for livestock manure. The cost of the electricity generated depends greatly on the type of residue and the technology used for the transformation. Thus, the most economical option is the incineration of municipal solid waste, with an entry cost of around 4 c€/kWh. The generation entry-costs from livestock manure and sewage sludge are on the other hand in excess of 8 c€/kWh.