Waste to Energy

Waste to Energy (WTE) uses municipal solid waste – after recycling and composting – to produce electricity and heat. Waste is burned, creating a gas. The gas is used with a turbine and generator to produce electricity, or it runs a boiler that converts water to steam, and the steam is used to produce electricity.

Process

Studies

In 2012, Yukon Energy hired Morrison Hershfield to look at feasibility of developing a WTE facility in the Marwell Industrial Area of Whitehorse. It has since confirmed that those findings were still relevant in late 2015.

The study considered the amount of municipal solid waste available at the time, after recycling and composting. It assumed that waste volumes would continue to grow at the historical four percent per year.

At the time of the report, a 16 percent recycling rate was being achieved. The city had plans to increase recycling rates to 50 percent by 2015.

While the City of Whitehorse did not achieve that level of diversion by 2015 (current diversion rate is 35 percent), Morrison Hershfield included data to show the impacts of a 50 percent rate.

The research outlines plans for a 1.6 MW plant that calls for 25,000 tonnes of post-recycling and composting waste per year. The study found that of the 25,000 tonnes, 7,700 tonnes of biomass would be required to supplement the feedstock. The need for biomass would decrease over time as the amount of municipal solid waste increased with population growth.

Technical and Financial Findings

Annual Energy Firm Energy Installed Capacity Dependable Capacity Levelized Cost of Energy Levelized Cost of Capacity Project Life In-service Lead Time
GWh/yr GWh/yr MW MW $/kWh $/kW yr Years Years

Option #1

Whitehorse

9.975 9.975 1.6 1.6 $0.446 $1,302 25 2

Energy

Capacity

Evaluation

Aquatic environment Most favourable
Terrestrial environment Most favourable
Air quality Somewhat favourable
First Nation lands Most favourable
Traditional lifestyle Most favourable
Heritage resources Most favourable
Tourism/recreation/other land uses Most favourable
Cultural/community well-being Most favourable
Local economic benefits Somewhat favourable
Climate change risk Most favourable
  •  Most favourable
  •  Somewhat favourable
  •  Least favourable

Notes

Waste to energy generation is seldom economic without the sale of heat. Of the energy produced in a waste to energy plant, only about 10 percent is converted to electricity. There is currently no viable market for the heat. That is one reason the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) shown on the previous page does not include heat sales. The other reason is to provide consistency with the other options in the 2016 Resource Plan.

Electricity only: $0.45/kWh

Both heat and electricity: $0.25/kWh

The current cost of electricity to Yukon homeowners is approximately $0.14/kWh.

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Initial key findings

Pros

Provides winter energy

Cons

High cost energy/capacity

Limited energy and capacity