Bookmark and Share

Chinese make an Incursion into the Indian Waste to Energy Industry

0 Comment

Indo-China War continues…..

Recent media headlines have been all about the Indian Chinese border issue with both sides not budging from their stand. Note India and China have fought a war in 1962 over the Himalayan border region and the vast border in the northern part of India remains unresolved with repeated incursions by Chinese troops taking place each year. China has recently ratcheted up tensions with almost all its neighbors over the ownership of land and islands near its borders. The tense standoff over Senkaka islands in the south China sea lead to a boycott of Japanese goods in the mainland.

Chinese companies have managed to capture a large part of India’s capital goods and machinery sector using low prices and vendor financing. Chinese wind turbines are being imported by top Indian power developers like the ADAG group and Chinese solar panel imports have led to the near closure of the solar module factories in India. The renewable energy and green industry in India has grown rapidly in recent years with India targeting to install almost 3-4 GW of green energy every year. Due to massive over-investment and huge subsidies, China has managed to capture a large portion of the global green market and wants a piece of the fast growing Indian green energy market. Indian developers are more than happy to welcome the Chinese given their cheap costs.

Waste Industry in India

The waste industry in India remains in an infant stage and India does not have any big waste companies like the US (Waste Management Inc, Waste Connections etc.). There are a number of electronic waste recycling companies in India. Waste is becoming a huge problem in India with Indian cities having no long term planning on how do dispose waste. Even top cities like Gurgaon and Bangalore simply dump waste. This is creating a huge problem as the massive mountains of waste grow bigger and bigger. Some municipalities are turning to “waste to energy” plants.

Indian Cities resort to Waste to Energy Plants

The first plant in Delhi built in 1990s was a disaster but given the insurmountable waste mountains, Indian cities are turning to WTE players. Mumbai is the latest city to joining the WTE bandwagon awarding the contract of a 30 MW plant to Indian infra major Ramky and a Chinese company. This will be done in a PPP partnership which has become the rage in government infra projects. Note many PPP projects like the desalination plant in Chennai have come a cropper. Waste treatment in India is not done in a systematic manner, which makes WTE plants difficult. It remains to be seen how this new WTE plant to be built by Chongqing Sanfeng Environmental Industry Group will perform.


Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) plans to generate 30 MW of power from its Rs 300-crore worth ‘waste to energy’ project.The contract for the ambitious project will be awarded to a consortium of Ramky Enviro Engineers and Chinese firm Chongqing Sanfeng Environmental Industry Group this week, MMRDA Commissioner U P S Madan told reporters on the sidelines of an event here today.

MMRDA is developing the project on a public-private partnership basis wherein nearly 2,500 tonnes of municipal waste can be processed to generate electricity.“We expect this project, coming up at Taloja, to generate nearly 30 MW of power and the contract will be awarded this week itself.”

Problems of Waste to Energy Plants in India:

a) Waste needs to be sorted before being burned. However in India segregation of dry and wet waste is not done. All waste including harmful chemicals and metals are burnt which lead to harmful emission.

b) There is also the problem of obsolete technology being used. There are no standards of technology to be used. Private players put up plants with the cheapest technology which do more harm than good.

c) The location of the Waste to Energy plant also leads a lot to be desired. Building of WTE in the middle of Okhla speaks of the stupidity and ignorance of the planners (if they can be called that).

One would have thought that waste to energy being a renewable energy form would win support from this group. But the problem with waste to energy in India is that it leads to pollution of the air and the environment where it is located as planning is lacking. Environmentalists accuse the Government of polluting the environment in its quest to save land being used for waste. They say that a greener solution would be to promote recyclingre-usage and better segregation rather than burning of the waste.

Waste to Energy Plants are currently too small to be able to make any serious difference to the power supply in the country. The waste to energy plants in Delhi and Pune are generating between 10 to 16 MW. Singapore which is one of the more environment friendly countries has 4 WTE plants generating 40 MW in total and processing more than 7000 tons of waste daily. In Singapore, there is no opposition to WTE because the whole waste management is done in a holistic and organized manner. In India like everything, Government does things in a haphazard way which leads to problems later. The first WTE plant in India built in 1990 was shut down as waste was not segregated. However 20 years on, nobody seems to have learned anything as still all kinds of waste are burnt in the incinerators leading to the emissions of harmful substances. These emission lead to major problems from local residents which the Government is not prepared to consider.

The problem is that in India, there is no national standard for emissions and quality of the waste to energy plant. The municipal corporations which are the governing bodies funding and building these plants have little expertise and are going ahead with little planning or ideas. If the plants are built involving the communities with proper segregation of waste like it is done in developed countries, the problem would go away. However nothing is being done leading to opposition from all new WTE plants being built in major cities like Delhi and Mumbai.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

No Responses so far | Have Your Say!