Renewable energy production from municipal solid waste to mitigate climate change: A spatially explicit assessment for Malaysia

Sie Ting Tan, of the Universiti Teknologi, Malaysia, investigated the potential of mitigating climate change and reducing landfill by producing energy from municipal solid waste.

Sie Ting Tan

Sie Ting Tan


The use of municipal solid waste (MSW) as a renewable resource could overcome waste disposal issues, generate power for fossil fuel displacement, and mitigate CO2 emissions from landfill. However, the availability of waste feedstock varies with the effectiveness of waste management while the profitability and the environmental impact are mostly dependent on the conversion technology, plant location, and plant capacity. The study thus aims to evaluate the complexity of waste-to-energy (WTE) supply chain networks for energy production and the CO2 mitigation potential through a spatially explicit approach. The Malaysian peninsular is selected as a case study area.


This study adapted the IIASA techno-economic engineering model for optimizing renewable energy systems (BeWhere) and developed a WTE optimization component. BeWhere is based on mixed integer linear programming (MILP) and is written in the GAMS, using CPLEX as a solver. The model minimizes the full supply chain cost of WTE (Figure 1). The model optimizes the capacity and location of WTE production plants and assesses the energy and by-product potentials, given the feedstock locations and the power demand under different cost and environmental indicators. Several scenarios were designed to analyze the impact of energy and carbon mitigation potential of WTE with various fossil fuel prices or carbon tax in the supply chain.

Figure 1: Supply chain network of WTE


The preliminary runs show that pyrolysis and incineration for power production are the preferred options, primarily because of the low economic investment and the high energy conversion efficiency. Apart from the power as the main product, the system produces biofuel as by-product. We found that most of the plants are installed in more highly populated cities with large potential for waste biomass, hence reducing logistical costs and emissions from transportation. The preliminary results show that WTE could be substituted for about 15% of the Malaysian power production following a business-as-usual scenario.


WTE is a promising form of renewable energy for Malaysia and a good solution for the high dependency of landfill. BeWhere for MSW provides a robust spatial explicit solution for WTE with assessment of the energy production and CO2 mitigation potential.


Sylvain Leduc and Florian Kraxner, Ecosystem Services and Management Program, IIASA


Sie Ting Tan, of the Universiti Teknologi, Malaysia, is a citizen of Malaysia. She was funded by the IIASA Malaysian National Member Organization and worked in the Ecosystem Services and Management Program during the YSSP.

Please note these Proceedings have received limited or no review from supervisors and IIASA program directors, and the views and results expressed therein do not necessarily represent IIASA, its National Member Organizations, or other organizations supporting the work.

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Last edited: 03 February 2016


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