The world is currently suffering from resource crises such as sharply rising oil prices and environmental crisis represented by climatic change, as the resources and energy consumption increases owing to the expansion of economic activities due to advancement of trade liberalization and globalization as well as the emergence of BRICs. Korea, as the tenth largest energy consumer, depends on import for 97% of the energy needs. Therefore, it is imperative that the country comes up with methods for reducing its dependence on imported energy by extending the production and distribution of new & renewable energy that could replace the primary energy like petroleum or coals.
In 2007, the ratio of total domestic primary energy to new & renewable energy was a mere 2.37%, but the government plans to increase the portion of new & renewable energy to 20% by 2050. The remarkable fact is that currently over 76% of new & renewable energy is produced from wastes, and its production cost is cheaper at 10% of solar power and 66% of wind power. Thus, energy production using wastes has emerged as the method that can realize new & renewable energy in the most effective way at an early stage.
Therefore, the Ministry of Environment has been pushing ahead with the implementation of various measures for converting wastes to energy since it disclosed Measures for Waste Resource and Biomass Energy in October 2008 and an implementation plan for the same measures in July 2009. Also, in accordance with Article 4 of Wastes Control Act (State Responsibilities), the Ministry continues to provide budget and technology for local governments in support of the expansion of the facilities for converting waste resource to energy.
The domestic policies for converting waste resource to energy are focused on combustible waste resource, organic resource, residual heat from waste incineration, and landfill gas, which are described as follows.

Energy Recovery from Combustible Wastes

Background and Significance of the Policy Establishment

The Ministry has been pushing ahead with the implementation of various measures for converting waste resources to energy since it disclosed Measures for Waste Resource and Biomass Energy in 2008 designed to realize the national vision of 'low-carbon green growth'. In 2007, each amount of soluble and combustible wastes convertible to energy was about 3.84 million tons/year, but only 1.5% of each (58,000 tons/year) was used. In the same measure, the Ministry of Environment is aimed to convert 47% (1.82 million tons/year) of soluble and combustible wastes into energy, and is pushing for measures.
Goals in Converting Wastes to Energy



To achieve the conversion of 47% (1.82 million tons/year) of soluble and combustible wastes into energy, the Ministry of Environment provided a national fund of KRW 110.1 billion to 18 facilities for converting combustible wastes to energy and KRW 53.5 billion to 4 solid fuel boilers between 2007 and 2012.
The facility for converting wastes to energy (for pre-processing) run by the City of Wonju has been in operation since 2007, and in April 2010, an experimental facility for converting residential wastes to energy was built on Metropolitan Landfill Site and has been operating to process 200 tons of residential wastes daily to produce refuse-derived fuel (RDF). The RDF produced in Wonju and Metropolitan Landfill Site has been used as substitute fuel by paper factories, cement factories, and thermoelectric plants; initially, it was provided free of charge for the reason of quality, but since 2010 it has been sold at KRW 25,000 per ton, drawing spotlight on solid fuel products. In addition to the facilities in Wonju, Metropolitan Landfill Site, Namhae, and Bucheon, combustible wastes pre-processing facilities started operation in Buan and Gapyeong in 2012, while aiming their completion between 2013 and 2015, solid fuel product manufacturing facilities are being designed or installed in 12 locations including Busan.
The Ministry of Environment is pushing forward with the design and installation of solid fuel product manufacturing facilities in 12 locations including Busan, which is scheduled to be completed between 2013 and 2015. Especially the solid fuel boilers to be installed in connection with the solid fuel manufacturing facilities are being pushed for in the form of private funding in Busan, Pohang, Daegu, and Daejeon. When the facilities are completed, the electricity produced at the boilers will be sold to KEPCO, while the heat will be supplied for district heating or used in the sewage sludge drying process. Furthermore, for a systematic management of the entire process including the manufacturing, distribution, and use of solid fuel products, Solid Recycled Fuel Information System has been created and in operation, which contributes not just to optimized quality management on solid fuel, but also to creation of a stable solid fuel market.

Energy Recovery from Organic Wastes

Background and Significance of the  Policy Establishment

In accordance with 1996 Protocol to London Convention that went into force in March 2006, a stricter regulation has been globally urged with regard to dumping of wastes into the sea. In 2007, Korea disposed of 53.8% of food waste leachate generated in the process of recycling food waste, 68.5% of sewage sludge, and 4.1% of livestock excreta by dumping them into the sea. Meanwhile, to promote conservation of marine environment and safe fisheries, the dumping of sewage sludge and livestock excreta was prohibited in January 2012 and dumping of food waste leachate into the sea is prohibited in January 2013, hence the urgency of measures for their disposal on land. But the burial of the wastes would bring with it an issue with the safety of the landfill site and bad smell, while incineration would cause air pollution with dioxin and a high disposal cost. Therefore, conversion of organic wastes to biogas is preferred to burial and incineration as the substitute for land disposal, and is to be employed to produce new & renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas.


In 2012, a project to construct facilities for converting 4,738 tons of organic wastes a day to biogas was promoted by 20 local governments across the country with subsidies from the central government, and some of the facilities's designs are completed or construction is underway or were to be funded by 2013 budget (or proposed budget) or were completed, demonstrating the brisk implementation of the project for converting organic wastes to energy.
Dongdaemun-gu of Seoul is operating a facility that runs a 1-MW generator using biogas as fuel that is produced by processing 98 tons of food wastes a day, and Sokcho City also operates a facility for producing 40 tons of biogas a day. Also, installed on Metropolitan Landfill Site as a measure for substituting transport fuel entirely imported from overseas, the facility for converting biogas to vehicle fuel started its test operation in June 2011, thereby expanding facilities across the country for converting biogas produced with organic wastes to vehicle fuel.
In 2013, facilities for converting food waste leachate to biogas are nearing completion in Jinju (150 tons of leachate a day), in Daegu (300 tons of leachate a day), and in Goyang (260 tons of leachate a day), followed by Seoul metropolitan facilities for converting leachate to biogas (500 tons a day). The  Ministry of Environment will complete 8 facilities for converting organic wastes to biogas (1,960 tons a day) in 2013 and 10 of them (2,640 tons a day) in 2014, and supply the produced biogas to electricity production, district heating, vehicle operation, and city gas.

Residual Heat Recovery of Incineration

Background and Significance of the Policy Establishment

Incineration Residual Heat Recovery refers to facilities that supply heat and electricity to residential facilities for hot water and heating and district heating facilities by installing gas cooling tower, boiler, and generator with the purpose of retrieving and using waste heat generated in wastes incineration. considering the change in wastes management policy (safe disposal ⟶ recycling ⟶ resource recirculation) and the age of high oil prices, the value of using waste-incinerated residual heat is increasing higher than before.
Therefore, the Ministry of Environment plans to promote incineration residual heat recovery by providing national funds for the remodeling and repairs of the existing incinerators to save energy. Where residual heat recovery is in operation, recovery rate is aimed to be increased, and facilities that do not recover heat will be supplemented with residual heat recovery facilities.


While KRW 5.3 billion was provided for incineration residual heat recovery facilities, Announcement on Method and Procedure for Testing Criteria for Energy Retrieval amended in April 1999 and Criteria for Calculating Incinerator Residual Heat Retrieval Ratio and Use Rate created in December 2012 are applied to facilities for recovering of residual heat in incinerator. Since 2012, Residual Heat Plant (750 tons a day) has been in operation in Mapo, Seoul.

Energy Recovery from Landfill Gas

Background and Significance of the Policy Establishment

There has been a paradigm shift from a focus on reduction of generated wastes, optimized treatment, and improvement of reuse ratio to the creation of 'a resource-recycling society'. Accordingly, wastes are perceived as a new resources, while the framework of recycling, which was previously limited to 'substance retrieval'  is now expanding to 'energy recovery'.
As part of its efforts for energy recovery, the Ministry of Environment recovers and purifies landfill gas generated in landfill sites to supply it as fuel to cogeneration facilities or as industrial and heating fuel.
As measures for achieving the national vision of 'low-carbon green growth', the Ministry of Environment disclosed Measure for Waste Resource and Biomass Energy in October 2008 and an implementation plan for the measure in July 2009, thus pushing ahead with the execution of various measures for converting wastes to energy.

Flowchart of Landfill Gas Power Generation


Since 2009 when landfill gas to resource project was pushed for at small-and-medium-sized landfill sites, Gupo Landfill Site in Gumi (450 kWh), Masan Residential Wastes Landfill Site (900 kWh), and Jinju Region Metropolitan Landfill Site (750 kWh) were completed with national subsidies and are in operation, while in Gwangju (1,000 kWh), Mokpo (2,000 kWh), and Gwangyang (640 kWh), private businesses installed landfill gas generation facilities and are operating them.
 Most small-and-medium-sized landfill sites diffuse landfill gas into atmosphere or burn it to emit greenhouse gases, which needs to be tapped into as an energy source. However, since there exists no data to estimate the generated or decreasing amount of landfill gas, local governments and industry are passive in investing in facilities. Against this backdrop, through an on-spot survey of 23 nationwide landfill sites, the Ministry of Environment provided local governments with the economic feasibility assessment and analysis of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project on 10 locations (2009) and performed a research project on a method for creating database management system needed to estimate the generated amount of landfill gas (May 2010 to December 2010), while holding workshops to push for the landfill to resource project.
Korea created Landfill Gas Power Plant (500 MW) at Metropolitan Landfill Site in 2007 and has operated it, and based on it, production of yearly 400 million kW of electricity is being planned. Moreover, after the start of the operation of the power plant (April 2007), carbon emission rights have been granted from UNFCCC as part of CDM project, and emission rights for total 3,149,000 tons of CO2 until 2010 have been secured, representing the country's continued efforts to reduce greenhouse gas. Landfill power generation and CDM projects are being actively implemented, not just at Metropolitan Landfill Site but also at Residential Wastes Landfill Sites managed by local governments.

Last modified : 2013-10-29 17:09

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