Readers of this blog, and other stuff I've published, should know that I am completely against the mass burn incineration of municipal waste. When I see the words "energy from waste plant" being used to greenwash an industrial "solution" to the mountains of non-sustainable waste that modern societies generate, I get rather annoyed. Readers will know that we recently lost the battle to prevent Jersey replacing its aging incinerator with a horrendously expensive new one, instead of the portfolio of alternative technologies and methods that we came up with. It was only tax payer's money after all - a helluva lot of it. That is now water under the bridge but just remember that I didn't make a £10 bet (that the incinerator would be seen as a disastrous mistake within 10 years) with our former Chief Minister expecting not to collect it. Keep watching and waiting!
Here is a link to an article from cleantechnica.com that highlights the entirely different energy-from-waste plants that actually would make a difference. Anaerobic decomposition (AD) of bio-mass; human waste (poop!) and food waste etc. into natural gas, adopted by much of the third world that has no current sewage treatment, would kill two birds with one stone. Firstly, hygiene would be vastly improved and secondly they would get a fair amount of renewable energy to develop without increasing their carbon footprint. I already highlighted domestic scale AD equipment that is being used now in India in this blog post from June 2009. Scroll past the hot air balloons to the Youtube video which I have relinked to here.
Anaerobic digestion combined with a CHP (combined heat and power unit) can power your house, supplying electricity and hot water.
Here's a great link to a website all about AD and one about on-farm AD . Once you've got your natural gas, sell it to a gas grid or why not look at this link from Honda who have produced a micro CHP unit. Here's another link to a British company who are also launching a CHP unit.
Edit 5/2/10 Particularly exciting is this Australian company, Ceramic Fuel cells ltd (with a factory in Germany) who are gearing up to sell a CHP unit that uses a virtually silent fuel cell and natural gas to create more electricity than the average house uses - the excess can be sold to the grid. The bonus is that the waste heat can be used for your hot water too. Very efficient at over 80% with none of the transmission losses that ate unavoidable with the ordinary electricity supply.
See how easy it is to make your own digester out of scrap on this site
Here's some links from Aleksandar's Energy Type blog which has useful and often quite technical posts on various types of energy.
I also can't resist linking to this post I did on "poop" but I'll have more to say on this at a later date as a story develops.