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Energy from Waste: an overview of the industry

Nathan Mann our consultant managing the role
Posted by Nathan Mann
Published on 6 December 2017

In a world where climate change is becoming an ever-increasing issue of importance, the future lies in investing in renewable sources of energy. One of these sources is Energy from Waste, a sector that is currently experiencing rapid growth and investment, with new projects springing up everywhere from America to the UK. The Energy from Waste market is expected to worth $35.5 billion by 2024, according to Global Market Insights, making now the perfect time to get involved in the industry.

Quanta Principal Consultant Nathan Mann reveals more about this exciting and lucrative industry.

Energy from Waste plant

What is the difference between Energy from Waste and Biomass?

Energy from Waste (also known as Waste to Energy) provides a relatively low cost local solution that uses waste to produce energy in the form of electricity, heat or combustible fuel commodities.

Biomass uses a similar process to Energy from Waste, producing energy and heat by burning biomass in a boiler. Biomass, such as wood waste, agricultural crops and even human waste, can be burned to release heat that is then converted to energy.

What makes recruitment in Energy from Waste interesting?

Energy from Waste is developing rapidly, which makes it an exciting area to work in. The technologies and process of producing this energy are changing every day and becoming more efficient. Therefore, finding good candidates that are able to deliver is always challenging. The market is growing and there are lots of new opportunities that Quanta can source candidates for, especially in the UK.

Why should people consider working in Energy from Waste?

The industry is relatively fresh, especially in the UK. The market here is an attractive place to invest, thanks to government incentives and other benefits, so there are a lot of large foreign companies investing in facility builds and Biomass-related projects here. This is an exciting prospect to be a part of, as we are dealing with companies from all over the world that have come together to deliver new Biomass plants and ultimately a new source of renewable energy

Are there any skill sectors or skilled jobs that are particularly in demand at the moment?

Currently, we’re seeing significant demand for Commissioning Managers with steam and large boiler expertise. Engineers with an in-depth knowledge of large boilers will find plenty of attractive opportunities in this sector.

How do you see the market developing in the future? Do you see it overtaking more conventional forms of creating energy?

Due to the world’s population producing more and more waste, the capacity for landfill is disappearing. Landfill sites also cause damage to the environment, polluting rivers and the ground. In the past, most waste was sent to landfill as it was cheap and space was available in old quarries, but there are estimates that this space will run out in the UK in 6-8 years.

Despite this impending shortage, about two-thirds of landfill waste is biodegradable, according to the UK Environmental Agency. As this waste decomposes, it produces harmful gases (carbon dioxide and methane) which contribute to global warming. While some of this gas does make its way into the atmosphere, most modern landfill sites have gas controls, and where the gas is captured it can be burnt in generators to produce electricity.

The amount of waste being sent to landfill in the world is therefore a large problem and the shortage of renewable energy is always apparent. With the correct technology, I believe that Energy from Waste will surpass the more conventional methods of creating energy, though I am also a strong believer in having a variety of energy sources, like nuclear, wind, hydro, or tidal power, to draw our supply from.

Is there anything in the market that needs to change for this to happen?

Currently, there’s a lot of debate on whether Biomass is truly carbon neutral. A lot of people are saying that by making Biomass from natural materials like woodchips, and then burning it, the carbon within the material the tree absorbed will be released back into the atmosphere. This logic suggests that Biomass doesn’t influence or change CO2 levels and doesn’t contribute to global warming.

Make your mark in Energy from Waste

We’re always looking for talented individuals to join us in the Energy from Waste and Biomass industry, and have a range of interesting opportunities within the UK and further afield. Contact us here to find out more.