Solar farm planned on top of Newcastle landfill

A new solar farm is slated to be built on a capped landfill site in Newcastle to significantly reduce the council’s annual $4 million electricity bill.

The farm adds on to one of Australia’s most advanced renewable energy setups at a waste facility, which already has a 2.2-megawatt landfill gas generator and a small wind turbine.

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With the additional energy available, the farm could lead to electric garbage trucks and improved battery storage.

The size of the new farm will cover an area of around five football fields between Summerhill’s entry road and construction waste area.

Construction is planned to begin in June and it is estimated the farm will save around $9 million after construction and operational costs are factored.

The farm’s 14,500 panels will be built by Lendlease and with most of the finance lent to Newcastle City Council through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s (CEFC) Local Government Finance Program.

“I’d like to thank the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for its incredible support of the City of Newcastle’s sustainability charter,” Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“The solar farm will produce enough energy to run the equivalent of 1,300 households, which promises significant environmental returns for ratepayers and millions of dollars in savings on electricity costs,” she said.

“We are building sustainability into everything we do after reiterating our commitment last year to generate 30 per cent of our electricity needs from low-carbon sources and cut overall electricity usage by 30 per cent by 2020.”

“Increasing our renewable energy capability and finding more energy-efficient solutions is an integral part of our long-term vision to become a smart, liveable and sustainable city,” Cr Nelmes said.

Newcastle City Council secured a $6.5 million loan from the CEFC to build the $8 million project.

ResourceCo receives loan for alternative fuel plant

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) is lending $30 million to leading resource recovery company ResourceCo to deliver an innovative alternative fuel plant in NSW.

The money will be used to build two new plants that will transform selected non-recyclable waste streams into solid fuel, known as Processed Engineered Fuel (PEF). The first plant is to be built at Wetherill Park in Sydney and the second to be in another Australian state yet to be announced.

PEF is used in cement kilns, reducing the reliance on coal and other fossil fuels. This fuel will initially be used locally, but will also be exported as an alternative to coal and gas for cement kilns in Asia.

Henry Anning, CEFC Bioenergy and Energy from Waste Sector lead, said PEF demonstrated the incredible potential to transform waste, that would otherwise go into landfill, into a baseload energy source as part of Australia’s future clean energy mix, while also lowering emissions.

“Our research into the bioenergy sector has identified investment opportunities of between $2.2 billion and $3.3 billion to 2020 in the urban waste industry. Commercial viability has been driven by a combination of rising landfill gate fees and falling technology costs,” Mr Anning said.

“Waste levies in states such as NSW, the ACT, South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria, are improving the business case for this kind of alternative use of the waste, rather than it going into landfill.”

The CEFC finance will enable ResourceCo to accelerate the development of the Wetherill Park plant, and proceed with a similar facility in another Australian state in due course.

Simon Brown, ResourceCo Managing Director said: “Our business operates across both Australia and South East Asia, which places us in a prime position to drive this new initiative forward and make a real difference in the way in which these communities view and deal with waste.”

When operational, the Wetherill Park plant will process around 150,000 tonnes of waste a year to produce PEF and recover other commodities such as metal, clean timber, and inert materials.

As an indication of the plant’s environmental credentials, it has been successful in securing $5 million in grant funding from the NSW Environmental Trust under the Waste Less, Recycle More initiative. The technology is also eligible for Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) due to the diversion of waste from landfill.

Mr Anning said generating heat and electricity from bioenergy and waste resources is cost competitive with other new-built energy generation. However, the technologies are not yet widely deployed in Australia.

“Being a throw-away society is a luxury Australia must reconsider. As a nation, we’re producing about 23 million tonnes of landfill each year, causing a growing problem with potential air, water and land quality impacts and generating ongoing monitoring and remediation liabilities,” he said.

“This investment is expected to abate over 8 million tonnes of CO2e over the expected lifetime of the equipment,” Mr Anning added.

The CEFC’s finance for ResourceCo is another example of the CEFC’s focus on delivering clean energy solutions in Australian cities, as part of its Sustainable Cities Investment Program.


GreenSync secures CEFC funds

Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Implementation Plan
Green-tech startup GreenSync has secured $11.5 million from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Southern Cross Venture Partners to help expand its energy-tech operations to Asia.

GreenSync’s technology uses smart software to optimise energy resources in electricity grids, assisting transmission and distribution companies, as well as industrial and commercial facilities, and residential and remote precincts.

The Melbourne-based firm received $5 million from the CEFC’s Clean Energy Innovation Fund, with a further $5 million provided by Southern Cross Venture Partners, and the remainder from a private fund.

GreenSync CEO Dr Phil Blythe said the company’s transformation from peak demand services to the optimisation of electricity grids reflected changes to the energy market in Australia and internationally.

“As we move towards a new era where energy storage and digital control are essential to maintain stable grids, GreenSync will stay focused on innovations that harness the collective strength of all industry players, and deliver substantially new models for operating grids around the globe,” Dr Blythe said.

Blair Pritchard, Investment Development Director of CEFC, said their investment would assist the transition of the Australian energy market from the current centralised model, to a decentralised one that reduces the amount of power lost through the transmission process.

He said this would allow for better monitoring and managing electricity demand and supply peaks.

“Through the smart control of locally-generated energy resources, GreenSync is contributing to the growth of a new energy economy focused on a cleaner power supply and carbon reduction,” Mr Pritchard said.

Mark Bonnar, Managing Director at Southern Cross Venture Partners, said control systems such as Greensync would help enable the reshaping of the electricity distribution network.