Sharjah: Construction will soon start on a Waste-to-Energy (WtE) plant in Sharjah that will achieve 100 per cent diversion from the landfill, the Sharjah Energy Meet (SEM) heard on Wednesday.

The Sharjah Environment Company (also known as Beeah) will “very shortly” start building the facility in Sajja area that will eventually convert 400,000 tonnes of waste per year into 80 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

The announcement came during the second edition of SEM, with Mark Heesom, Managing Director, Waste Management, Beeah, saying the ambitious project will convert 99 per cent of organic waste into energy.

After using some of the generated power for the plant’s own needs, the electricity will be exported to Sharjah, Heesom said. No residual waste entering the plant will be sent to the landfill — virtually all of it will be processed to produce gas and thermal energy for generating electricity.

The WtE system at the plant will use a combination of the gasification and pyrolysis systems to produce gas as fuel, as well as heat to turn water into steam, which will run the turbines to generate electricity.

A small percentage of the output will be “safe and inert ash”, for use in the construction industry, while some quantity of “clean metals” processed in the system will enter the recycling market for sale.

Separately, it was also announced on Wednesday that Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, had signed a strategic partnership agreement with Beeah to develop the UAE’s WtE sector.

The partnership will help in contributing to the UAE government’s Vision 2021 that targets, among other goals, diverting waste from landfills by 75 per cent by 2021.

Dr Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, Minister of State who is also the chairman of Masdar, and Salim Al Owais, chairman of Beeah, signed the agreement on Wednesday at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

The partnership, announced as part of the ongoing Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, also establishes a platform to develop similar future projects across the Middle East.

Under the agreement, a Centre of Excellence in Waste Management will also be set up in Sharjah to advance education, innovation and capacity-building in WtE.

Dr Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Masdar, said “waste is a critical part of the equation. Dumping waste in landfills is not desirable, so finding innovative ways to release the embodied energy in waste is crucial if we are to address the sustainability challenges of increased urbanisation and consumerism.”

Beeah collects about 2.3 million tonnes of waste from nearly 1 million households in Sharjah each year while diverting 70 per cent of its collected waste from the landfill.

Al Owais said: “This high profile agreement with Masdar gives the green light for an innovative approach to environmental solutions and energy, and will radically improve our efforts to preserve the wonders of our natural habitat for tomorrow’s generation.”

The partnership formed a consortium to participate in the tender process for the “Integrated Waste Management: Northern Emirates” project managed by the Ministry of Environment and Water, which, if successful, will see two additional WtE plants constructed in the UAE by around 2021.