Waste to Energy industry barometer: “mood worsens significantly”

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Waste-to-Energy (WtE) plant operators in Europe report an increasingly poorer business development, and they also expect the downward trend to continue. In the WtE industry, on the other hand, the order situation remains favourable; however, the cost increases are of particular concern.
This is the result of the current WtE industry barometer. Supported by the operators’ association CEWEP, consulting company ecoprog carries out this survey on an annual basis.
The business climate among the WtE plant operators decreased from 104 points last year to 88 points in 2022. This is the strongest decline in a year since the first survey in 2012. 40% of the WtE operators reported a decreasing demand in the past 12 months, while only 10% stated that their demand was increasing. Only 27% of the plant operators reported high capacity utilisation.
Nevertheless, 90% of respondents still rated their current business situation as good or satisfactory. It can be assumed that the still comparatively good assessment of their own business situation can, at least in parts, be the result of increased revenues in the energy sector.
However, the industry is sceptical for the coming months. 36% of the plant operators expected less favourable business performance, only about half as many expected a recovery. For the first time in many years, plant operators expected lower gate fees. Around half of the respondents expected such a development. At many locations, this is only logical in view of the decreasing waste quantities. Less than 30% of plant operators surveyed expected prices to increase.
The WtE industry is less sceptical than the plant operators. Like the operators, the industrial players rate their current business situation with 44 points, and thus most of them answered "good" or "satisfactory". With 39 points, this is the second highest score in the past 10 years, only exceeded by the previous year's figure (54 points). 31% of the companies even reported an increase in demand in the past 12 months; 27% reported an increase in order backlog.
Even the prospects for the future are moderate in the industry; optimists and pessimists are roughly balanced here. ecoprog considered the comparatively positive framework conditions for the industry – despite the emerging weakness in the waste market – to be the background to this moderate assessment. These were characterised by an outdated European plant portfolio, retrofitting (also as a result of increasingly stringent requirements) and the ongoing transformation of the waste management systems away from landfilling, especially in Southern and Eastern Europe.
The increasing costs in recent months are a major problem for the industry. The operators are mainly affected by increased costs for supplies, maintenance and repair, as well as energy. These increased costs are also the biggest problem for the industry, followed by the availability of these precursors. The lack of skilled workers, which is certainly not a consequence of the Covid-19 crisis or the war in Ukraine, is the third largest problem.
The WtE industry barometer 2022 calculated the present business climate according to a method developed by the ifo Institute. In addition to that, issues concerning current developments have been examined.
The WtE industry barometer is carried out by Cologne-based consulting company ecoprog. The umbrella association of the operators of Waste-to-Energy plants (Confederation of European Waste-to-Energy Plants) supports the survey. For each participant of the survey ecoprog has donated 10 euros to SOS Children’s Villages.

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