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译:Chinese waste: the burning issue

来源: 时间:2012-2-2 9:11:00 点击:

The state remains unprepared for the pollution and protests its ambitious garbage-incineration plans could generate, writes Yu Dawei.


 

Since early 2008, China has seen a frenzy of investment in controversial garbage-incineration plants. In the words of Zhang Yi, head of the Shanghai Environmental Sanitation Engineering Design Institute, the sector is experiencing an eight-year golden era, set to continue through the 12th Five-Year Plan period, which ends in 2015.

China creates more than 360 million tonnes of domestic waste each year, of which 150 to 160 million tonnes is generated in cities, and the quantity is growing at a rate of 8% each year. Dealing with these rapidly advancing heaps of rubbish is a challenge for all levels of government.

Most of China’s garbage meets with one of three fates: around half is placed in landfill, 12% is burned and a little under 10% used for fertiliser. The rest is mostly left untreated, much of it simply dumped. However, plants that burn waste – and in the process generate electricity –are on their way to playing a significant role in the disposal of Chinese refuse.

Zhang Yi, whose comments came at a Shanghai seminar on the future of the energy-from-waste industry, said that, although landfill is the most popular method of rubbish disposal in China, it is a relatively crude solution. It requires a lot of land, foul odours are hard to control, the waste takes a long time to stabilise and there is a risk of pollution.

In contrast, incineration plants take up little land, garbage is quickly stabilised and reduced in volume and its odours easily controlled. For densely populated cities, where land is at a premium, incineration is the ideal choice, said Zhang.

Shi Yang is chief engineer at the China Association of Urban Environmental Sanitation’s Consulting Centre. Shi told New Century Weekly that, when it comes to dealing with waste in China, the biggest problem is a lack of capacity for safe disposal. And so during the 12th Five-Year Plan, which covers the period from 2011 to 2015, building new processing facilities is the main priority.

China is set to increase its daily waste-processing capacity by 400,000 tonnes over that five-year period, said Shi. New investment of 140 billion yuan (US$22 billion) will be pumped into the sector, bringing total spending on waste-disposal to 260 billion yuan (US$41 billion).

Industry insiders say more than 100 billion yuan of that will be spent on waste-burning power plants.
That rings true: incineration projects are quietly getting under way all over China. Shandong and Zhejiang provinces have plans for 20 new plants each, while Fujian has 17 in the pipeline, Jiangsu 14 and Guangdong 13. By the time the 12th Five-Year Plan comes to an end, the country will have a total of 300 incinerators, capable of handling 300,000 tonnes of garbage a day, or around 30% of all the waste China processes.

Evidently, China is gearing up for a Great Leap Forward in garbage incineration.

The path China has chosen will not be smooth. Local governments find themselves squeezed between mountains of rubbish piled around their cities on one side, and residents’ objections to incinerators on the other.

According to
Zhang Yi’s calculations, there were 10 protests against incinerator projects between June 2007 – when locals objected to a facility at Liulitun in Beijing – and January of this year. Three of these were in Beijing, three each in Jiangsu and Guangdong and one in Shanghai. “These are the most economically developed areas of China, where residents have the most-developed environmental awareness and where property prices have risen the highest,” Zhang said.

He believes there are four key reasons for such protests. First, existing plants are of a low standard and poorly run, and as a result create fumes and foul odours. Second, land and property prices are steadily rising, leading residents to expect more of their local environment. Third, people are scared of dioxins, harmful chemical compounds that can be released during uncontrolled waste incineration (although he believes that this danger has been exaggerated). And fourth, in the past, local governments have failed in their duties during tendering processes, meaning badly managed companies have ended up operating plants.

Setting standards for waste-burning plants has also proved challenging. Incineration capacity is expanding rapidly, but from a very low starting point, said Wang Qi, head of the China Research Academy of Environmental Sciences’ Institute of Solid Garbage Pollution Control Technology. There is a wide variety in materials burned – the plants basically use whatever gets delivered, which presents serious challenges for pollution control, Wang said.

Despite the launch of so many incineration projects, there are still no clear regulations governing how the plants should be operated and pollution prevented. China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection is drafting new standards for pollution control, but has already missed a planned publication date of 2011.

“According to the original schedule, the standards should have been brought out in 2011, but there have been some changes,” said Wang, adding that the document – which has to take into account environmental impact, technical limitations, public reaction and social stability – is a challenge to draft. “You can imagine the pressure,” he said.

There is an existing set of standards, which was drawn up in the late 1990s, but it is considered out-of-date and vague. Wang said that some of its restrictions are no longer appropriate and it is not clear exactly to what the standards apply. Moreover, the rules focus on emissions control rather than the specifics of incineration technology and incineration-generated pollution.

Complaints have already been made about the new regulations. In a draft released for public comment, the rules on the selection of sites for incineration plants had not changed, something professor Zhao Youcai of the State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse at Tongji University told New Century Weekly is a mistake. The new standard, he said, retains a 300-metre buffer zone between incineration plants and local residents, just like the September 2008 notice on environmental impact assessments for biomass-fired power plants issued by the MEP and the National Energy Bureau.

But Zhao believes that the distance should be three kilometres: contrary to expectations, there is little pollution at a distance of 300 metres, he said. Pollution is highest at a distance of one kilometre, and then falls off quite quickly as you move further away.

Many academics also believe a major failing of the draft new standards is that construction is still not conditional on public consultation and approval, and that harmony between such projects and neighbouring communities remains impossible in China.

Despite early signs of pollution problems at existing plants and repeated public protests, a major push forward with incineration plants took place between 2008 and 2010, the last three years of the 11th Five-Year Plan.

There are financial motives for this Great Leap Forward in garbage incineration, closely bound up with the interests of the power-generation sector. The bulk of China’s garbage incinerators are electricity-generating waste-to-energy plants, characterised by high levels of initial investment followed by low operating costs and large and stable profit flows. Income comes from garbage-disposal fees and electricity sales, as well as tax breaks and the sale of by-products.

The industry estimates that it takes between eight and 12 years to earn back the cost of a waste-burning power plant. Currently such projects in China are mostly BOT (build-operate-transfer) or BOO (build-own-operate). Licenses are usually granted for 25 to 30 years, meaning a project investor could enjoy up to 22 years of profit.

Take the Gao’antun plant in Beijing as an example. It can handle 1,600 tonnes of garbage a day, or 530,000 tonnes a year. It generates 200 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, 160 million of which reach the grid – meaning it makes 104 million yuan (US$16 million) from electricity sales, or 195 yuan (US$0.31) per tonne of garbage. The profits are higher than for landfill or fertiliser, and the profit ratio is better than in many other industries.

The promise of cash may have unwanted side-effects
: industry insiders report that, in the past, some incinerator-managers added coal to the garbage they were burning in order to boost the amount of electricity generated.

New Century Weekly
learned that, to avoid stirring public sensitivities, many projects have been renamed “biomass electricity projects”. But this kind of fudging, say many experts, is hardly a sustainable path for garbage incineration. Rather, strict standards and transparent management are what’s needed, along with an appropriate system of compensation. Only then will local residents be able to get along with the neighbours.

                                                                                                                                                    (译文如有出入请联系本会,来源于chinadialogue)

译   文:

中国垃圾焚烧大跃进

中国垃圾焚烧项目正大干快上,但如何控制污染、缓减焚烧与周边居民生活的冲突,中国还未做好准备。于达维报道。

 


 

从2008年起至今,在中国争议不断的垃圾焚烧,正在演变成一场投资盛宴。

中国“十一五”(2006年—2010年)规划的后三年加上“十二五”(2011年—2015年)规划共八年时间,是中国垃圾焚烧产业的黄金时期——上海环境卫生工程设计院院长张益,近日在上海举行的中国垃圾发电展望论坛上这样表示。

千亿元蛋糕

目前,中国每年生活垃圾产生量超过3.6亿吨,其中城市生活垃圾1.5亿—1.6亿吨,约占世界总量的1/3,并且以年均8%的速度增长。

增势日益凶猛的垃圾如何处理,是摆在中国各级地方政府面前的难题。

在垃圾处理方式上,中国向来以填埋、焚烧和堆肥为主。填埋是目前主要方式,占比近一半;焚烧占比12%左右;堆肥不到10%;仍有30%的生活垃圾未能处理。

张益说,虽然填埋是主要方式,但处理比较初级,而且有占地多、臭气不易控制、稳定周期长、存在污染风险等问题。与之相比,焚烧方式占地小,稳定化速度快,减量效果好,臭气容易控制。对于人口密度大、土地紧缺的大城市来说是一个理性的选择。

中国城市环境卫生协会技术咨询中心总工程师施阳告诉财新《新世纪》记者,当前,中国垃圾处理的主要问题仍是无害化处理能力不足。“十二五”期间,垃圾处理设施建设仍是首要任务。

施阳称,“十二五”期间,中国将新增处理能力约40万吨/日,新增投资约1400亿元。 中国在垃圾处理上的总投资将高达2600亿元。

业内人士透露,2600亿元大蛋糕中,超千亿元将切给垃圾焚烧发电。

目前,各地垃圾焚烧项目纷纷上马,但均低调推进。山东省、浙江省各自规划了20座;福建省规划了17座;江苏省、广东省分别规划了14座和13座。

按照相关规划,到“十二五”末,中国的垃圾焚烧厂总数将超过300座,日处理能力将达到30万吨,占垃圾处理总量的30%。

显然,在“十二五”期间,中国将迎来垃圾焚烧项目的“大跃进”。

推进中的难题

中国选择的这条路,注定不会平坦。目前各级政府正面临两方面的夹击:一边是城市周边堆积如山的垃圾,另一边是居民对于垃圾焚烧的反对声。

据张益统计,从2007年6月份北京由于居民反对而叫停六里屯垃圾焚烧厂建设,到2011年1月份,全国至少发生了10次因为垃圾焚烧选址引发的群体事件,其中北京市3次,江苏省3次,广东省3次,上海市1次。

“都是经济最发达,居民环保意识最强的地区,也是房地产升幅最高的地区。”张益说。

张益认为,中国因垃圾焚烧项目引发群体性事件的根本原因在于,一是原有垃圾焚烧厂标准偏低,管理力度不够,造成烟气超标、臭气扰民的现象;二是土地价格、房产价格持续推高,加重了居民对于环境质量的要求;三为二噁英的污染引起居民的恐慌。他认为,二噁英污染目前有可能被人为放大了;第四个不可忽视的原因,是相关地方政府过去定位不当,招投标过程不规范,使得垃圾焚烧企业的运行管理上不够规范。

难以制定的标准

谈到中国垃圾焚烧污染现状,中国环境科学研究院固体废物污染控制技术研究所所长王琪指出,中国垃圾焚烧发展非常快,但起点低。由于垃圾焚烧的物料差异很大,几乎是来什么烧什么,对于污染控制非常困难。

虽然各地的垃圾焚烧项目正在大干快上,但是垃圾焚烧项目如何管理、如何避免各种污染,却还没有一个明确标准。由环保部牵头修订、原定在2011年内出台的《生活垃圾焚烧污染控制标准》,已经失约。

“本来2011年应该颁布的,但又有了新变化。”王琪说。这一标准的制定非常困难,要考虑环境影响,又要考虑技术限制,还要考虑公众影响和社会稳定,“压力可想而知”。

中国现行的标准,是上世纪90年代末制定、2002年实施的。王琪指出,当时这个标准在国内没有适当的参考对象。即便定了标准,比如二噁英的排放标准,其实也无法控制。

王琪认为,现在看,原有标准部分限制不合理、使用范围对象不清,而且过分强调尾端控制,即对排放量的控制,不适应垃圾焚烧的工艺特性和污染特性。

对于引起广泛争议的选址问题,新的标准(征求意见稿)并未有太大改观。

同济大学污染控制与资源化国家实验室的赵由才教授告诉财新《新世纪》记者,对于垃圾焚烧项目与居民区最小边界的规定,新的标准仍然是300米。这是参照2008年9月份环保部和国家能源局联合发布的《关于进一步加强生物质发电项目环境影响评价管理工作的通知》确定的。赵由才认为,这个距离应该在3公里。他说,其实300米范围内污染并不大,反而是1公里以外污染最大,超过1公里以后衰减比较快。

学者普遍认为,新标准征求意见稿中极大的缺陷,是仍然未将公众参与和认可作为垃圾焚烧项目落地的前提。垃圾焚烧项目与周边居民的和谐,在中国就是一个无解的难题。

与利益相捆绑

尽管已建项目污染问题初露端倪,因选址产生的群体事件一再上演,但从“十一五”后三年(2008年—2010年)起,中国垃圾焚烧厂却开始大干快上。

垃圾焚烧大跃进在中国的上演,其实还有经济利益上的原因,即和发电利益相捆绑。中国的垃圾焚烧项目,绝大多数为垃圾焚烧发电项目,特点是前期投入大、运营成本低,且收益稳定丰厚。其收入来源,不仅包括垃圾处理补贴和售电收入,还包括税收优惠、供热收入、售渣收入等。

据业内估算,垃圾焚烧厂项目投资回收期为8年—12年。目前中国垃圾焚烧项目主要采用BOT(建设-经营-转让)和BOO(建设-拥有-运营)两种模式。两模式对投资方的特许经营期一般均为25年—30年。这相当于投资方最多可以净赚22年。

以北京市朝阳区高安屯垃圾焚烧厂为例,其处理垃圾量为1600吨/日,全年53万吨,年发电两亿度,上网电量1.6亿度,售电收入为1.04亿元,折合每吨垃圾发电收入195元。经济效益不仅比卫生填埋和堆肥高,和许多其他行业相比利润也非常丰厚。

知情人士透露,过去有些垃圾焚烧厂为了提高发电量,故意在垃圾中掺煤,以赚取高额电价补贴。

财新《新世纪》记者得到的最新消息是,近期各地不少垃圾焚烧发电项目,为规避公众对垃圾焚烧的敏感,将项目改称“某某某生物质发电项目”。

对此,有关专家指出,中国垃圾焚烧的出路,应当是严格的标准和透明的管理,以及合适的补偿,这样才能让附近居民与这些设施和谐共处。

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