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Organic fraction of municipal solid waste – a valuable source of green energy in India

Asit Aich (Department of Municipal Affairs, Government of West Bengal, Kolkata, India)
Sadhan Kumar Ghosh (Mechanical Engineering, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India)

International Journal of Energy Sector Management

ISSN: 1750-6220

Article publication date: 7 November 2016




The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the green energy generation potential of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW) through anaerobic digestion (AD) route in India and its benefits.


In this study, performances of some AD plants presently operating successfully in India have been studied in the field (Section 3.1). Primary data collected from this study has been used to evaluate the biogas generation potential of OFMSW in Indian condition (Section 4). To ensure the validity, this gas generation potential has been compared with the gas yield data observed by the other researchers and with the gas yields of AD plants of some technology providers at some parts of the world (Section 4.1). From the future population projection (year 2030) and the future per capita waste generation rate obtained from the literature survey, estimation has been made for future quantity of municipal solid waste (MSW) (year 2030) (Section 2.3). Based on these data, the green energy generation potential from the bio-degradable portion of MSW through AD route, in India, has been evaluated (Section 4.2), and its economic and environmental benefits have been analyzed (Section 5) .


This secondary research work reveals that from the bio-degradable portion of MSW, India can generate about 583 MW of green energy daily and produce about 5.1 mil MT of bio fertilizer per annum presently, and these may go up to 2,273 MW and 19.5 mil MT, respectively, in the year 2030. Generation of green energy from OFMSW, in India, may save coal consumption of about 3.04 mil MT and reduce 35.42 mil MT of CO2 emissions per annum presently. Moreover, utilization of the bio-degradable portion of the MSW stream may save about 550 acres (2.23 sq. km) of landfill area per year presently and in total may save about 8,182 hectare (82.5 sq. km) of landfill area during the period of 15 years time.

Research limitations/implications

The population growth and future per capita waste generation rate are based on census report of Govt of India and survey report of World Bank, respectively. Separate collection of bio-degradable portion of MSW has not yet been developed properly in India.

Practical implications

This study reveals that in India, the high-moisture-content, low-calorific-value bio-degradable waste in India can be used for the generation of substantial amount of green energy in India, which in addition to financial gains would reduce the waste quantity at landfill site, conserve natural resources, save land, reduce green house gas emission, generate employment and help to protect environment. Considering these benefits and advantages, evaluated in this study, policy makers and city managers may review their approaches toward solid waste management system of their cities to meet the challenges of huge increase of MSW in the years to come in India. More research works may be initiated to improve the AD system of organic waste, and more capital may be employed in waste management business in India.


Numbers of research works have been carried out by other researchers for estimation of energy generation potential through AD of OFMSW for different countries; but no such work could be found to identify such potential and its benefits in India. This research work demonstrates how MSW can be used as a wealth for green energy production in India. The originality of this paper is the analysis of green energy generation potential from the low calorific value MSW in India.



Aich, A. and Kumar Ghosh, S. (2016), "Organic fraction of municipal solid waste – a valuable source of green energy in India", International Journal of Energy Sector Management, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 526-545.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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