Green Economy

First to Hit Zero, Wins

zero-waste plant

A new joint venture will support Sharjah to actualize the Emirate's intentions to become a global leader in waste management and renewable energy.

IN May 2017, Sharjah’s leading waste management company, BEEAH, and Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, Masdar, launched a joint venture to build the first waste-to-energy plant in the Middle East. The first project of the joint venture, Emirates Waste to Energy Company (EWEC), is set to break ground in Sharjah’s Al Saj’ah industrial district at BEEAH Waste Management Centre (WMC), the Middle East’s largest facility for material recovery center. The strategic partnership leverages the advantages of both companies and will usher in more projects and investment throughout the region.

The new waste-to-energy plant will burn 37.5 tons of solid waste per hour during the first phase, incinerating 300,000 tons of non-renewable waste per year to generate a total of 30MW of power-enough to power 28,000 homes in Sharjah. With plans for commercial operation to commence in the last quarter of 2020, the plant will displace nearly 450,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions and save 45 million cubic meters of natural gas per year.

This plant and EWEC is part of Sharjah’s zero waste-to-landfill target by 2020 and its long-term strategy to become the environmental capital of the Middle East. Sharjah is the first municipality in the region to announce a zero waste-to-landfill goal, joining several European municipalities and municipalities across the world that are addressing the issue of waste. Currently, the Emirate of Sharjah diverts roughly 70% of waste to recycling, energy production, and other resources.

In addition to formally establishing the EWEC, the launch event also heeded the signed the power purchase agreement between EWEC and Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA). EWEC will supply power generated from the waste-to-energy plant to SEWA.

BEEAH is the driving force behind Sharjah’s green economy ambitions and actually set the zero waste-to-landfill goal for the Emirate. The integrated environmental and waste management company collects some 2.3 million tons of waste from nearly 1 million households per annum, making it the largest waste management company in the region. Chairman of BEEAH Salim Al Owais described BEEAH’s vision at the plant’s groundbreaking ceremony, seeing the potential for the UAE as “a beacon for best environmental practices in the Middle East. We also intend to set an example to the world for how a country that has traditionally been heavily reliant on fossil fuels can embrace change and become a leader in green technology, through vision, determination, and hard work.”

The plant’s design ensures that this vision turns into a reality as it complies with the EU’s Best Available Techniques, often recognized as the worldwide standard. According to the World Energy Council’s 2016 World Energy Resources report, Europe is currently the largest market for waste-energy-technologies and accounted for 47.6% of total market revenue in 2013.

Masdar is at the forefront of renewable energy in the Middle East and North Africa, with projects under the Clean Energy department spanning the UAE, Jordan, Mauritania, Egypt, Morocco, the UK, Serbia, and Spain. Masdar’s projects, including those either fully developed or under development, generate 2.7GW of electricity, and Masdar has invested USD2.7 billion in renewable energy projects since its establishment in 2006. The partnership will help commercialize solutions to meet the challenges of waste disposal and swelling demand for clean energy in a region with some of the world’s highest rates of waste production per capita.

Sharjah’s renewable energy targets will contribute to the UAE’s goal of diverting 75% of its solid waste by 2021. HE Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, called the joint venture a “bold and unconventional solution to address the increasing development challenges in a sustainable way to achieve the objectives of the National Agenda for UAE Vision 2021.”