Investing in Waste-to-Energy

Here’s a short video on a waste-to-energy deal in one of the world’s largest population centers. Dealing with municipal solid waste (MSW) is a serious challenge, but, as is often the case, there’s a twist…

As Donald Trump famously said, “As long as you’re going to be thinking anyway, think big.”  That certainly seems to apply to what we’re doing in clean energy, doesn’t it? It’s really not smart to apply time and effort to projects that don’t scale.

Consider for a moment, municipal solid waste, as a component of the biomass wedge. 130 millions tons of MSW are converted annually into energy and other useful products, in an industry that will reach $29 billion by 2015. Yet this is a minute fraction of the total MSW generated by our worldwide population.

And here’s a useful point to keep in mind: the disposal of MSW constitutes a significant problem — especially for the world’s most densely populated cities. Imagine you’re chartered with the responsibility to deal with MSW in a population center like Shanghai, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangkok, Beijing, Seoul, or Mexico City. Think of the issues that all conspire against you: land scarcity, air and water pollution, disease, odor, and the expense of logistics.

But then, realize that you’re sitting on a fortune! You have tens of thousands of tons a day of energy-rich biomass that, with the right equipment, can be converted to energy – some combination of electricity and liquid fuels, as well as other valuable products — and sold back to a huge population of energy-starved people, all living and working within a short distance.

As it turns out, one of our 2GreenEnergy clients just sent me a 61-page feasibility study they completed in one of the mega-cities I just mentioned. It calls for the deployment of a patented waste-to-energy technology to convert 3000 tons of MSW per day into 130 megawatts of electricity plus ancillary products. Strategic partners, including one of the five largest engineering/construction companies on Earth, are ready to start the 14 month build process; and a 25-year power purchase agreement is solidly in place, signed off at the highest level of government.

My job, as usual, is to round up investors. Between debt and equity, the total project cost is about $400 million, and the IRR numbers (return rate) look quite attractive. If you know of anyone who might be interested and can invest at that level, I hope you’ll let me know.

I think “The Donald” is quite correct here: If you have to think, you might as well think big.

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28 comments on “Investing in Waste-to-Energy
  1. Please send me 61 page feasibility studay on conversion of MSW into 130 MW of electricity.


  2. Please send me the feasibility study too. My team is looking for a system in Singapore where electricity tariff and tipping fee are high. If it is good, we can invest in both.

    Tan Lien Chiow

  3. Bruce Hamilton says:

    MSW to electricity has been a dream since the middle of the last century. Unfortunately, it involves many tradeoffs. Curbside recycling reduces the unburnable material such as glass and metal improving the fuel value, but the recycling of plastics, wood, and paper greatly reduces the fuel value to a level where it becomes impractical. Leaving in the plastics results in carcinogenic emissions which can be controlled at an increased expense that reduces the profitability. In addition, the ash is usually considered hazardous due to the heavy metal content and must be disposed of as hazardous material, further reducing the profit margin. Bottom line is that very few MSW to electricity plants are in operation around the world and fewer are being proposed because the economics are marginal at best and the environmental factors don’t work.

    • Craig Shields says:

      Bruce: Good points, but I think you’ll be impressed with some of these new technologies, e.g., thermal anaerobic gasification.

  4. I was in China two years ago and spoke at the World Expo Show on the value of converting waste into value added products thru thermalmechanical conversion. I would be interested in seeing this study if that is possible. Many Thanks

  5. Hi Craig,
    Please send along the study. Working in the municipal engineering discipline, we are always looking to expand our knowledge base. We also have clients with investment capital and open minds.

  6. I would like to receive this study, if possible. Thanks

  7. Bradley Schneider says:

    I would like to get a copy of that report. I work in this area and developing multiple WTE facilities. The issue that some people see in WTE is not founded, such as reduced recycling. A study showed that cites with a WTE solution actually have higher recycling rates. Also the emissions from properly operated WTE facilities is lower than that of coal fired power plants. I am working with some very sound technology and developing plants that create long term jobs along with energy and the recovery of a large quantity of recyclable materials. I would be interested in how this report suggests dealing with the large volumes of waste as produced by a large city.
    Thank you,

  8. kelly sarber says:

    I have permitted several hundred million dollars of waste to energy projects in the US and we are seeing a renewed interest in the technology as long as people believe that the fuel source as been recycled first. Also, I am developing a 100,000 ton per year anaerobic digester for a major California port that will take organics and make biogas for fuel so this is also a space that I am in. I am interested to see what major city your project is located as most of the PE’s that I work with are not going to invest in certain markets due to government issues but are open to others if protection is there.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you are talking about using organic waste, there is a better technology which is cheaper than AD. This converts the organic waste in to bioethanol. if this is of any interest, we can discuss. Pl contact me on

      Mani Vannan

  9. Kelly,

    If you are talking about using organic waste, there is a better technology which is cheaper than AD. This converts the organic waste in to bioethanol. if this is of any interest, we can discuss. Pl contact me on

    Mani Vannan

  10. Greetings from Manila Craig! Kindly forward me the 61-page study for application in Metro Manila garbage problem.

    VVReambillo, Consultant and Project Manager, Board of Investments, Industry & Investments Bldg., 385 Sen Gil J Puyat Ave., 1200 Makati City, Philippines
    CP (+63)920-960-1246 Email

    Thank you and more power ….. VerR.

  11. sanjay says:

    Please send me a copy of the feasibility report. I could have potential investors from India interested in the project and also to learn more about this new technology.

  12. waterman says:

    Please send me 61-page feasibility study. Chinese are potential investors in such technology. Thanks.

  13. Syed says:

    KWT Authorities are exploring various options to mitigate Municipal Solid Waste issues. Would be interested to see if this technology fits the bill.

  14. Glen Nelson says:

    Dear Sir,

    I am a private investor I focus on Seed Capital, Early-Stage, Start-up, Ventures, LLC and All rounds for completion and expansion of investment projects that need funding.

    I am interested to invest in your project for a long-term business relationship.If this sound good to you;Kindly get back to me with more details about your project.


    Dr.Glen Nelson.

    Private Angel Investor

    Hawthorne Close London N1 4AW

  15. Hi Craig,

    I would also be interested in the study. Greetings from Istanbul,


  16. Alpha says:

    Dear Craig,

    Please also send me the report to as it would be tremendously useful to my study. Thank you very much.

    Best regards,

  17. johnson says:

    Sir,I would like to get a copy of the feasibility study.we are planning a waste to Energy in Nigeria hereby seeking investors as well.

  18. Dr.Philip Kunnath says:

    Dear Craig,
    Please send the feasibility report to my mail id –


    Dr.Philip Kunnath

  19. Soumya says:


    We are technology suppliers for waste to energy systems. We incorporate a non-incineration based thermal system to convert unsegregated waste to electricity. The same can be also utilized to produce alcohol if desired. We’d be happy to work in this regard with any partner who wishes to incorporate a waste to energy solution. Please contact me on for further details;

  20. wismo subroto says:

    Dear Craig,
    Send me that feasibility report please to my mail
    Best Regard
    Ir Wismo Subroto MS

  21. Dear Craig,
    Send me that feasibility report please i would seriously like to read the whole thing we are interested in such investments to my mail
    thank you, Best Regards
    Dr. Sharma.

  22. Mike says:

    Hello Craig. I am wondering if you found financing for this project and helped to get it off the ground. I am a part of a company in Canada that has partnered up with a great technology partner. We have the first 2 projects moved very far along including feedstock supplies, land, and power purchase agreements. On the backend we will be using GE gensets and we have debt financing almost finalized for approx. 70% of the project. We are looking for an equity partner for the remaining 30% which is approx. $10M for the first project. The return on equity is extremely attractive. Let me know if you are still in the game.

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