Industry Insights & Trends

Waste Technologies’ Cost Curves


A cost curve for waste to energy has been outlined in this brief, although it does not show the split by operating and capital costs. Additional details on these costs are noted below.

Anaerobic Digestion

  • EPA Ag Star notes that the capital cost of an on-farm anaerobic digester ranges from approximately $400,000 to $5,000,000 depending upon the size of the operation and technology used.
  • details operating and maintenance costs for the digester and electrical generator for farm operations being between 2.3 to 7.0% of total capital costs. It should be noted that the source this is taken from dates back to 2007.
  • Washington University State has produced a budget calculator for an anaerobic digester (AD) system. This is intended for dairy owners, AD system industry experts, and researchers to be able to calculate the economic value of different price and technology situations. This includes an indication of capital costs as well as the operating costs, although a specific herd size must be input. This may be useful in making the calculation needed.
  • A table in a report looking at anaerobic digestion and integration at an urban scale gives a breakdown of the types of projects looked at in the report, including the nature of the waste being dealt with and the inflow in tonnage for each project.
  • A report by produced in January 2020 (available to download as a PDF from the link) gives an overview of OPEX and CAPEX costs. The paper looks at these in relation to UK/EU facilities. OPEX is generally up to £3 million but with exceptions between £6 -£7 million. The higher OPEX values though, it should be noted, are not all related to a higher plant capacity, suggesting that other technical matters are involved.
  • The above report also gives figures for a typical CAPEX breakdown per capital cost item on page 6. The largest of these is construction at 82%.
  • Another report on, which notes that it provides detail on OPEX and CAPEX from 2017 to 2024 in this area was found, however, the details are held behind a paywall.
  • During the research, a cost curve was found of potential global bio gas supply by feed stock in a report looking at the sustainable potential of bio gas. The curve shows the USD/Mbtu vs millions of tonnes of oil equivalent.

In-Vessel Composting

  • A guide to the biological recovery of organics produced by Sustainability Victoria gives a figure for capital costs of Australian $9.6 million. Figures are assumed to be in Australian dollars as the report is produced by an Australian body.
  • The report also notes operating costs to be greater than Australian $50 per tonne. Factors affecting the operational costs are noted as odor control, power consumption, and maintenance.
  • The above report notes that this type of composting can produce 10,000 to 100,000 tonnes per annum.
  • A report showing a comparison of solid waste management technologies directed at mayors in the United States notes capital costs (US$/annual tonne) of 30-400 for composting, not specifically in-vessel. It also notes operating costs (US$/tonne) of 22-57 for the same and gives a figure of average tonnes per day of 2.5-300. The report includes comparative figures for anaerobic digestion and incineration.

Waste to energy

  • A report by looks at waste to energy facilities in China and the USA. This found that the impact of environmental emissions regulations had an impact on the cost to build these types of facilities. The report gives a capital cost per tonne for China from 2002 up to 2017. The most recent figure noted in the graph on page 24 is US $260. In the study, they found that the cost to build a facility in China was considerably less than other countries.
  • The report also gives a similar figure for the USA of $1,050 per annual ton of facility capacity after the most recent regulatory change (2006).
  • A graph detailing a cost curve for WTE plants with plant capacity, and curve equation showing initial cost in (US$/TPD) and capacity (TPD) was available on Although, this is not split by capital and operating costs.
  • note capital costs (US$/ annual tonne) for incineration (with energy recovery) as 190-1,000 and operating costs (US$/tonne) as 12-55.
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at Simple Manifestation with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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