Tomas Olejniczak is an energy consultant from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. He visited the West Bank in 2020 as a representative of the Energy Transition Facility programme (ETF). There, he helped the local government prepare for its first sustainable waste-to-energy plant.
Not enough energy and too much waste
Because there are no power plants on the West Bank of the river Jordan, the region must import most of the energy it needs. The West Bank also has a serious waste problem. The landfills there are almost full, and there is not much space for expansion.
That is why the Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority (PENRA) asked the Netherlands Enterprise Agency’s ETF programme for help. Tomas Olejniczak brought together local authorities, international NGOs and Dutch consultants to help solve this energy and waste problem.
The Netherlands has a lot of knowledge and experience in waste-to-energy (W2E), the process of turning waste into energy. Tomas made sure that PENRA received the right information from the Dutch specialists. Based on their data, PENRA started a pilot project to burn non-recyclable waste. This was an important step towards local, sustainable energy production in the region.
"Domestic waste combustion is a technology with areas of concern," Tomas explains. "If a process goes wrong, the plant will cause more pollution. And if waste flows are not managed correctly, the plant will become less efficient after a few years." That is why he decided to help PENRA avoid these problems.
A feasibility study showed that W2E is possible for the West Bank. To guarantee a good start for the project, Tomas first made sure that employees had a clear picture of the problem. "We looked at different scenarios, determined the factors we would need to take into account and analysed the risks." PENRA now has a good idea of the steps needed to build its first direct combustion plant.
Tomas thinks PENRA can do this within 5 years. "The next step is to create a design to prepare for the tender." This document describes the size of the plant, the rules it must follow and the maximum pollution limits. There is also a strong focus on the pre-combustion phase. It is important to first separate and compost household waste as much as possible. "One goal of our programme is to make sure energy production is as sustainable as it can be."
Energy Transition Facility
With the ETF programme, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs wants to help countries in the Middle East and North Africa transition to sustainable energy. For more information, visit the ETF page.