This article presents an analysis of possibilities for electrical energy production by using municipal solid waste disposed in the biggest Brazilian cities. Currently, the municipal solid waste in Brazil is collected and disposed of at landfills, but there are also other technologies, which in addition to dealing with the garbage can also provide benefits in terms of energy provision. The following scenarios were studied in this work: electricity production from landfill gas (reference scenario); incineration of all municipal solid waste; anaerobic digestion of organic waste and incineration of refuse-derived fuel fractions after being separated in separation plants. According to this study, the biggest cities in Brazil generate about 18.9 million tonnes of municipal solid waste per year (2011), of which 51.5% is biogenic matter. The overall domestic consumption of electricity is 480,120 GWh y(-1) in Brazil and the municipal solid waste incineration in the 16 largest cities in the country could replace 1.8% of it using incinerators. The city of São Paulo could produce 637 GWh y(-1) with landfill gas, 2368 GWh y(-1) with incineration of municipal solid waste and 1177 GWh y(-1) with incineration of refuse-derived fuel. The latter two scenarios could replace 27% and 13.5% of the residential electrical energy consumption in the city. This shows that thermal treatment might be a viable option of waste-to-energy in Brazil.
Keywords: Electricity; biggest cities; landfills; renewable energy; thermal treatment.
© The Author(s) 2014.