With the construction of Hitachi Zosen Inova’s first Australian waste to energy plant, Waste Management Review explores the role of innovation in the budding sector.
The WA EPA has recommended conditional approval of New Energy Corporation’s change in technology from gasification to combustion for its proposed East Rockingham waste to energy (WtE) facility.
New Energy Corporation proposed using Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI) Grate Combustion technology, which the EPA found did not bring any further risks to the surrounding environment or communities.
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The technology allows for a greater waste throughput at the facility, increasing the amount of waste it can process from 225,000 tonnes per year to 300,000, leading to increased electricity generation.
The EPA has also recommended strict new conditions for the proposal to ensure only residual waste is accepted at the WtE facility to be consistent with the state’s waste hierarchy.
The EPA has defined residual waste as “waste that remains after the application of a best practice source separation process and recycling systems, consistent with the waste hierarchy”.
Under the new conditions, WtE proponents will need to develop a Waste Acceptance System Plan and a Waste Acceptance Monitoring and Management Plan to identify the suppliers of waste and describe the types of waste, waste loads and quantities accepted.
WA currently has four approved WtE facilities, however none are in operation.
EPA Chair Tom Hatton said the HZI technology is used widely around the world, having been tried and tested in more than 500 plants.
“While the gasification technology originally proposed for the facility was also deemed to be acceptable by the EPA, the combustion technology has been used in a number of facilities of a similar scale, and we have determined it does not pose any additional risks to the surrounding environment and community,” Dr Hatton said.
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson will make the final decision for the proposed change. The EPA’s report is also open for a public appeal period which closes Monday 5 November.
A Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI) led consortium has signed a 20-year agreement with the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council (EMRC) for the supply of waste to the East Rockingham Recovery Facility.
Approximately 330,000 tonnes of waste are converted into renewable energy at the East Rockingham Resource Recovery Facility (RRF), producing 28 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 36,000 homes.
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HZI’s partners in the consortium include the New Energy Corporation and Tribe Infrastructure Group.
The project will set a benchmark in the Perth market for waste to energy projects in terms of flexibility and value and represents a $400 million private sector investment in the metro area.
Under the agreement, the EMRC’s participating councils will supply residual waste to the RRF and will only pay for capacity they use. This means councils that have successfully implemented landfill waste reduction schemes will receive no penalties.
This system favours a service provider model that supports higher order utilisation or recovery of waste resources instead of a take-or-pay structure which can lead to financial penalties if committed volumes are not met.
HZI will act as the technology provider, engineering and construction contractor and will execute long term operations and maintenance contract for the project.
The RRF will divert 95 per cent of the waste it receives from EMRC away from landfill.
New Energy Chairman Enzo Gullotti said he supports waste minimisation and composting should councils choose to do that.
“It’s an important part of our social licence to operate our RRF over the long term. We’ll deliver the EMRC the best possible environmental outcome for residual waste streams and certainty of price over the period of the contract. This presents a real opportunity to divert waste from landfill and deliver value for money to the ratepayers of the EMRC councils,” Mr Gullotti said.
“The EMRC should be commended for showing leadership in diverting waste from landfill. This signing represents the delivery of a strategic commitment the EMRC undertook back in 2000 in this regard. It’s not only a win for the environment but also for the member council ratepayers who are now insulated from the ever-increasing cost of landfilling, due at least in part to the state’s rising landfill levy,” he said.
The consortium currently working through the pre-engineering and update of the site environmental approval. The project is scheduled to begin construction in Q3 2018.