The EU energy system will become more decentralised, decarbonised and more locally integrated and society will become more circular – in order to achieve a climate-neutral economy by 2050.

Waste-to-Energy plants will store energy; they will be able to desalinise water; they will capture the CO2 and recover it; and much more. Circularity means that Waste-to-Energy plants will take care of the fraction of waste that cannot be directly recycled. All materials after the Waste-to-Energy process that can be used will then be recycled into products. Contributing to a sound use of natural resources, Waste-to-Energy plants will systematically recover minerals and metals to build roads, buildings, etc.; produce biological fertilisers for agriculture; and much more. Waste-to-Energy plants will therefore be integrated with recycling plants in waste management centres. Landfills will be minimised all over Europe and separate waste collection will be everyone’s rule. Waste-to-Energy plants will be increasingly integrated into the urban fabric and will generate multiple opportunities for citizens, while safeguarding the environment. Their large scale will allow to integrate sport centres (such as ski slopes, rock climbing gyms, skate parks, tennis courts, outdoor swimming pools, etc.) and edutainment activities to raise students’ and citizens’ awareness of waste management, energy production, engineering, etc. The presence of restaurants, picnic spots, panoramic points and the organisation of activities including concerts, open-air cinemas and theatres, etc. will be potential features of both the plants and the parks surrounding them. Finally, synergies with research centres will allow for the development of innovative technologies furthering the contribution of Waste-to-Energy to resource efficiency and decarbonisation. Waste-to-Energy plants will generate jobs involving a huge variety of professions, they will contribute to the economic growth of the city and they will keep the environment clean, fully aligned with the goals set by the United Nations in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Increased feed-in from variable generators will mean that Waste-to-Energy plants will have to make sure they can use the energy they generate even if their electricity may not be fed into the grid.

Text and image from ESWET Vision 2050 –