In 2005, over 70% of residual, black bin waste in Ireland was Biodegradable. According to the EU Renewable Energy Directive, this biodegradable waste can be used to generate renewable “bioenergy”.
A study for the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources found that waste-to-energy could deliver over one fifth of all bioenergy production by 2020. This represents enough energy to power a quarter of all Irish homes and will contribute to Ireland’s renewable energy target. Bioenergy is a valuable form of renewable energy because it can improve the security of energy supply. This is because waste is a local source of energy, reducing Ireland’s reliance on energy imports. Furthermore, unlike other forms of renewable energy such as wave, wind, water and solar, waste is a solid fuel and is therefore more consistently available. This helps to maintain the stability of the electricity network. To deliver Ireland’s bioenergy potential, the National Bioenergy Action Plan aims to maximise the recovery of energy from residual waste and “suggests thermal treatment with energy recovery as the preferred option …”.
Bioenergy is used to describe renewable energy from the biodegradable fraction of waste as well as agricultural and forestry materials.
Residual waste is “black bin” waste that remains after waste prevention, reuse and recycling. Although residual waste usually has little material value, it still has an energy value that can be recovered in waste-to-energy plants.
Examples of Biodegradable Waste