Close
25 June 2018 year The latest trend for burning trash
Mikhail Lifshits speaks to Expert magazine about the specifics of trash disposal

More than 55% of the equipment of new waste incineration plants built under the "Clean Country" project at the request of the state must be Russian. For domestic manufacturers of turbines and boilers, this is a good chance to participate in waste incineration projects around the world.

In the coming years, five new waste incineration plants to process waste into electricity will be commissioned in Russia: four in Moscow Region, where the situation with the accumulation of garbage is most acute, and one in Tatarstan. The envisaged capacity of each plant is up to 700,000 tons of waste per year. The project is being implemented by the company RT-Invest (the blocking stake belongs to Rostec, the rest is owned by private shareholders).

Since the beginning of June, active work has been carried out at the site for the construction of a plant in the Voskresensky District of the Moscow Region. The first plant will be commissioned in 2021. In Naro-Fominsk, work will begin in the coming months, and by the end of the year - it will start at all four sites outside of Moscow.

After the separation of useful parts such as plastic, glass, waste paper, and organic waste, which will be made into compost (no more than 50% of waste will be thermally treated), the garbage is burned, which causes smoke trails. This is an inevitable part of the process, though a touchy subject for some Russians. First of all, projects like this hold connotations with burning dumps and other "evil spirits". Environmentalists and the general public are concerned about emissions from such enterprises.

Mikhail Lifshitz, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the holding company ROTEC, which among other things develops the equipment for incineration plants, recognises that burning is inevitable. "Garbage mounds press into the soil with such force that the infiltration penetrates the Earth within a radius of eight kilometers around the landfill. Isn't it better to turn the waste into carbon dioxide and ashes? The problem is that collecting garbage separately and subsequently transporting it will lead to a multiple increase in garbage trucks on the roads. As a person with experience with infrastructure, I do not see any alternatives to garbage incineration, at least for Moscow and cities with over a million people," explains Mikhail Lifshits.

The design and basic engineering of the plants was carried out by the Swiss-Japanese company Hitachi Zosen Inova AG (HZI) for RT-Invest, in accordance with the agreements reached between the two companies in 2013. The project was then adapted to Russian standards by the engineering company COTES based in Novosibirsk. Using Swiss technology, the garbage is burned using a moving grate at a temperature of 1260 degrees, and the resulting heat is used to produce electricity.

When it came to choosing the technology supplier, RT-Invest looked no further

According to Andrey Shipelov, the company's General Director, about 1,500 modern incinerators are currently in operation around the world, a third of which were built by Hitachi, which continues to receive orders from the largest cities in the world. Over the past five years, the Swiss-Japanese company has been chosen by wealthy Dubai and scrupulous London, which already ordered a second project from Hitachi. About 150 factories in the world are being built using this technology. The method of burning garbage on a grate is also used in China, where over 50 incinerators have been commissioned over the past three years. But the Chinese, as usual, go their own way. "They made the first plant using Hitachi technology, and then began to build by themselves using their own "improved" technology. At least, the improvements are declared on the official website of the Chinese company," remarks Andrey Shipelov with a smile.

RT-invest is now creating new standards for the industry. "HZI has a very reliable history handling garbage, so we chose them. Their technology is state of the art in this segment of recycling,” says Mikhail Lifshits. He draws attention to the fact that the Swiss project provides an extremely low water consumption through the use of dry condensers and not cooling towers. As a result, water condenses without leaving the closed system. Another feature of the RT-Invest approach is that, unlike others who want to “burn” garbage, the company created waste management infrastructure to close the whole chain: from collecting and sorting the garbage to transporting it and generating electricity from it.

The cost of electricity generated in an incinerator, unfortunately, is higher than with traditional generation. As a result, electricity on the wholesale market will rise by 0.01% in the first pricing zone, while in the second zone, in regional markets, the price will suffer a one time rise of 2% in the year that the plant is commissioned.

For the population, the price of electricity will not change. However, we still feel the difference through the increase in prices by industrial consumers. Justifying the fairness of the "green" tariff for RT-Invest, Andrei Shipelov indicates that in 2013, the company received the status as a producer of renewable energy. Power generation from the sun and wind enjoys similar state support.

Import substitution energy

Pursuant to the terms of the competition, which was won by RT-Invest, at least 55% of the equipment for the incinerators is to be produced in Russia. Andrei Shipelov claims that RT-Invest plans a localization level of 65%. According to him, this is not so much a political decision as an economic one; it is profitable to produce equipment in present-day Russia, where there is a qualified and inexpensive labor force, good technical schooling since the USSR, relatively inexpensive electric power, and a developed defense and nuclear industry. Moreover, we can add to this a reduction in logistics costs. It should be clear that we are not just talking about deliveries to Russian factories. In the future, HZI may even use Russian equipment in the construction of incinerators in other countries.

According to Andrei Shipelov, a big step has already been made in localization, though not all equipment can be produced domestically. "Gas cleaning after incineration is a very sensitive job, and nobody offered this service in Russia," he explains. "There are enterprises that do gas cleaning for the chemical industry, but this is perhaps an even more complicated process." At our first factories, we decided not to risk it, and we bought a gas cleaning system from world leaders." The automation system in the factories will also be imported, since our electronic industry does not produce the majority of the components for it. However, it is highly likely that the "power island" of the equipment in future incineration plants will be produced in Russia, including the large nodes that turn garbage into energy, the boiler, the turbine and the condenser. It costs about 30 billion rubles to build a single plant, of which 8 billion rubles is spent on acquiring the “power island”. By localizing equipment alone, savings of 15% can be expected, explains Mr. Shipelov. Exactly the same factory in London would cost more. The protection against currency risks is also important.

In December 2017, RT-Invest signed a contract with Atomenergomash, which is responsible for designing the power section of the plants. At Atomenergomash, they said that the company is a supplier of boiler and turbine equipment for RT-Invest plants for the processing of waste into energy: "Boiler equipment is manufactured at our ZiO-Podolsk enterprise, which has significant preferences in the manufacture of boilers for both thermal power plants and incinerators. In particular, in the 1990s and 2000s, boilers for plants in Germany and Russia were designed and made there". As for the turbines, they will be purchased on the side.

“Compared to the ones that we ordered, much more technologically sophisticated boilers were created at this plant for the nuclear industry,” adds Shipelov. “So Hitachi not only approved the construction of the boiler in Podolsk, but is also conducting negotiations to supply Russian boilers to other countries.”

Now Atomenergomash has to choose a subcontractor - a supplier of turbines. According to the company, negotiations are underway with potential manufacturers of turbine equipment, both domestic and foreign. The main selection criteria is compliance with all requirements of the licensor and the main customer for the technical, economic, and in particular, the environmental parameters of the plants.

Russian suppliers have very good chances of getting the order. The fact is that a turbine for a waste incineration plant is not significantly different from those used for traditional energy generation, so it makes sense to procure one inside the country.

"Power Machines" says that the production of power equipment for incinerators is a promising market, and one that is gaining momentum in Russia and the CIS. "Power Machines" have equipment for building waste incinerators of any capacity, and offer a complete supply package of equipment that is manufactured in-house, including a turbine with generator, a boiler, and transformer equipment. As the company says, there have been several requests for manufacture and supply of equipment for incinerators, but the customers are not specified.

It is known that Siemens and Škoda are competing in a tender to supply turbines, and The Ural Turbine Works (part of the ROTEC holding company) is also fighting for victory with its new Kp-77-6.8 turbine, designed specifically for the requirements of the RT- Invest project."

As Anderi Shipelov explains, Hitachi conducted an audit of production and technical capabilities at the Ural production facilities and was satisfied with the level of the plant. “We gave our recommendations to Atomenergomash. We would like to see the turbines of The Ural Turbine Works. But they still need to refine the technology, which is exactly what they are doing now. That said, we are 70 percent sure that The Ural Turbine Works will be the supplier".

As Mikhail Lifshits said, about half of the installed capacity of heat-generating turbines in Russia and CIS countries is produced by The Ural Turbine Works. The plant produced more than 900 turbines of varying capacities, from 50 to 350 megawatts. Over the last few years, they have been developing a line of steam turbines for garbage recycling plants. “We looked at various technologies and came to the conclusion that incineration will become a necessity,” says Mikhail Lifshits. “Therefore, we began to prepare for this in advance. For us, this is a completely logical development. It is not what burns that is important, but it is important for us to efficiently generate electricity in the process."

For The Ural Turbine Works, a new car means an opportunity to enter not only the Russian, but also the world market. The waste incineration industry is only just beginning to develop, and other players will follow RT-Invest. The degree of equipment localization will grow, as is the case for solar energy, for example. Mikhail Lifshits estimates the minimum market demand for waste incineration turbines at 30 units: "In small towns, a separate waste collection program can go well, but for cities with millions of inhabitants, incineration is already inevitable."

All turbines - both Russian and Western - are technological "classmates", because they are equipment with similar characteristics. The difference is that if Škoda and Siemens turbines already have a long history of implementation, the Ural turbine was designed only recently, and the manufacturer has taken a risk of sorts. Of course, it is also a risk for the potential customer, but this level of risk is considered acceptable by RT-Invest.

On the other hand, the lack of implementation experience is compensated by Ural's innovative development, because the turbines installed in factories in Switzerland, for example, were developed seven to eight years ago. “In some ways, we are ahead of them in terms of using digital technologies,” says Mikhail Lifshits. “This is simply because five years ago, there were no such approaches.”

The Ural turbine is equipped with a prognostics and remote monitoring system based on software that allows to detect deviations in equipment operation two to three months before its failure. "Siemens also has such systems but the Ural one is much better. All thanks to the Russian school of mathematics," says Andrei Shipelov.

As for the price, Shipelov highlights that the Ural turbine is cheaper than the imported one, though the difference is marginal. According to Mikhail Lifshits, the turbine with a capacity of 75 megawatts will cost the customer about half a billion rubles, which corresponds to average market prices. There isn't a great deal of opportunities to save money. Metal costs almost the same price as in Europe, and labor costs are also comparable. By the way, the turbine is a complex product that take at least a year to make. “A turbine with a capacity of 295 megawatts, which we made for Mosenergo, contained 45,000 parts,” says Mikhail Lifshits. "It’s hard for me to even imagine how to assemble such a machine, part by part, and then check everything is correct." Borrowing funds for such a long cycle of work is significantly cheaper for Europeans than for Russians. Anyone can turn up at any time with export financing to make the product cheaper, Mr. Lifshits notes. Sudden movements and dumping attempts are to be expected, because Western companies need to save jobs. Not so long ago, Siemens laid off 7,000 workers, and General Electric fired 12,000.

Plan B

Even if ROTEC does not receive an order from Atomenergomash, the company has an alternative plan of action. At The Ural Turbine Works, the sales market for turbines is considered to be larger than for incinerators built from scratch. Along with the new facilities, the Ural company also proposes modernizing old and inefficient thermal power plants, laying the groundwork for the possibility of burning garbage in them. To do this, it is necessary to upgrade the steam turbine and boiler installation. In this case, it won't be necessary to change the size of the boiler in order to "mix in" waste (to the amount of 10-20%) to the traditional fuel. In addition, they will need to build a unit for receiving and sorting waste. "We understand why RT-Invest decided to opt for greenfield projects; in large cities, primarily in Moscow, trash is already the most complex environmental problem, and it cannot be solved without building powerful factories," says Mikhail Lifshits. “For a small city or district, however, the reconstruction of a thermal power plant for incineration is an absolutely viable working option.”

With this option, the process of acquiring land and carrying out long-term coordination can be avoided, the power output process scheme will not change, and there will be no need to build new substations and transformers or install power transmission lines. In addition, the environmental benefits are clear, as Mr. Lifshits explains: "If this thermal power plant has been operating for forty years, and we install electric precipitators and a more efficient turbine, then emissions will definitely be reduced."

ROTEC's proposal has not yet received obvious support from the market or the authorities, and has raised concern among environmentalists, but Mikhail Lifshits hopes that this kind of reconstruction can be financed as part of the thermal energy modernization program.

Source: Expert magazine
Author: Vera Kolerova

  • See also: