Current European policy tends to emphasize the promotion of recycling over other waste treatment methods to recover materials and value. The 6th environmental action program’s key objectives is to decouple resource use from economic growth through significantly improved resources efficiency. The incineration directive 2000/76/EC aims at accelerating the move towards tighter standards in terms of protection of health and environment. It was passed into EU law late in 2000, reporting obligations by January 2003, concerning old and new installations and setting up methodologies for sampling by calling at the CEN standards. The directive rules over operating conditions, with respect to stricter dioxin emission limits to be met across Europe, besides it deals also with the use of waste as a secondary matter in the cement industry (co-incineration). In Italy the Ronchi Decree (n.22/1997) tided up the matter by preventing the use of landfill for waste which would not have been collected and recycled, before the conversion to energy. Nevertheless Italy can only account for 7% of waste to energy recover, still far from countries whose current target is 50%. The waste to energy recover is one of the tool identified in the national plan for the reduction of GHG emissions (resolution CIPE 123/2002) to comply with the Kyoto Protocol Italian commitment, along with the fostering of traditional renewable energies (solar, wind, …). From this resolution it comes out that 2 GW capacity are attended from the deployment of wind and waste to energy installations. Additional measures needed foresee investments ranging from 1100 to 2400 M€. According to the MATT-CIPE (2002) estimations, potential emission savings are between 1.8 – 3 Mton CO2 associated with 750-1300 MW production from biogas derived from municipal solid waste and waste from agriculture and food farming. As a consequence the decrease in the number and volume of landfill entails for an additional emission reduction of 7.5 MtCO2 equivalent, due to the lessening of CH4 (methane) release. The global warming potential (GWP100) of the CH4 is 23 bigger than that of the CO2’s. Automation techniques concern not only the environmental features but also it deals with manifold issues such as safety, plant availability and economical operations. The Department of Electrical Engineering –University of Pavia- is currently involved with two waste to energy facilities operating in the Province of Pavia, promoting stage activities for undergraduate students.
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