Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has granted Australian Paper a works approval to develop a large-scale, waste to energy facility in Victoria.
The facility is proposed to be co-located within the boundaries of the Australian Paper site in Maryvale, Latrobe Valley and process residual municipal solid waste, and industrial and commercial waste.
The plant would generate steam and electricity that can be directly used in the paper mill and its operations or power exported to the grid. As proposed, it would replace two existing gas-fired boilers, produce approximately 30 megawatts of electricity and 150 tonnes per hour of steam and would result in a 13 million tonne net reduction of greenhouse gases through its lifetime.
EPA’s assessment of the application considered issues such as use of best practice technology, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, waste fuel composition, compliance with waste hierarchy, the principles of the Environment Protection Act 1970, environmental management and potential risks to human health and the environment including emissions to air, noise, disposal of fly ash, the wastewater treatment system and operational contingencies.
EPA Executive Director of Regulatory Standards, Assessments & Permissioning Tim Eaton said EPA’s decision followed many months of consultation and research including taking in 128 submissions and reviewing additional information. The statutory deadline for decision was 28 November.
“The project is highly complex and with so many submissions it was clear that thorough consultation would be needed especially with the community most directly involved,” said Mr Eaton.
“Approval of the application means that EPA has satisfied itself that the project can be built to meet the requirements of the Environment Protection Act 1970 and all relevant policies and regulations to protect human health and the environment from the harmful effects of pollution and waste,” he said.
Australian Paper now requires further approvals, including a planning permit from Latrobe City Council and securing waste contracts. Completion of final detailed design, construction and commissioning will all need to be consistent with the works approval before Australian Paper can apply for an EPA operating licence.
As Australia looks to waste to energy as one of the solutions to solving the waste crisis, industry must act to educate and engage the public or face potentially crippling opposition to major projects, writes Nick Albrow, Director of Wilkinson Butler.
The City of Cockburn has signed a waste to energy agreement with the HZI Consortium to process its waste at a facility that will produce electricity, steam and construction aggregate as useful by-products.
It progresses the council’s March decision to accept a tender to supply general waste to the proposed HZI Consortium EfW resource recovery facility in East Rockingham.
City of Cockburn Waste Manager Lyall Davieson said it was an important step toward removing the city’s municipal solid waste from landfill, in accordance with the WA Waste Authority’s waste hierarchy, along with considerable cost savings for ratepayers.
“The contents of the yellow top bin (plastics/glass/paper) will be recycled, the green top bin (garden waste) will be mulched and now the red top bin will go to the proposed HZI Consortium WtE facility in the East Rockingham Industrial Estate,” Mr Davieson said.
“Waste disposed at landfill attracts an ever increasing state government landfill levy, which is currently $70 per tonne, but this levy does not apply to WtE.
“The state government has determined that no further landfills will be approved on the Swan Coastal Plain.
“When existing landfills reach capacity, the city, along with many other metropolitan local governments, will have to transport general waste to regional or inland rural areas, a costly proposition that would also increase the city’s transport carbon emissions.”
Cockburn will supply an estimated 27,000 tonnes per annum to the facility scheduled to open early in 2022.
Under the terms of the agreement, the city will supply its residual waste to the RRF on a ‘waste arising basis’, meaning it will only pay for capacity it uses.
This means there is no penalty for implementing waste reduction schemes, such as waste avoidance, reduction, and introducing a third bin for compostable organic waste.
Chairman of HZI Consortium partner New Energy Corporation Enzo Gullotti said WtE projects should not and need not impede higher-order recovery processes for waste streams.
“Our contracting structure allows councils to recover as much resources from waste as they can and to educate communities on minimising waste generation,” he said.
HZI is one of the world’s largest builders of EfW facilities. By-products from the East Rockingham development could include 28 megawatts of electricity (enough to light up 36,000 homes), steam for industrial customers and residual products for potential uses aggregate material in construction and infrastructure projects.
Cockburn, along with the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council, SUEZ and the Water Corporation will be among inaugural customers supplying waste to the facility.
Construction of the HZI facility is expected to begin in 2019.
Pictured: City of Cockburn CEO Stephen Cain, New Energy Corporation CEO Jason Pugh and City of Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett sign the Energy from Waste agreement.
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.
The ACT Government has begun community consultation on waste to energy (WtE) to help develop policy and provide information for stakeholders.
It follows the results of the ACT’s Waste Feasibility Study which found Canberra was unlikely to achieve a recovery rate of more than 80 per cent without some form of WtE leaving 200,000 to be sent to landfill.
The ACT Government has launched a survey to gather community feedback and provide information on the different types of WtE to clearly outline the territory’s position on energy recovery. It has also launched an information paper to outline the challenges and opportunities for the technology in the ACT’s context.
The consultation will inform the ACT Government’s consideration of WtE in the territory.
Currently the ACT has a target to divert 90 per cent of waste from landfill by 2025 and has implemented a container deposit scheme to also improve the territory’s waste diversion rates.
WtE processing facilities are already in use in the ACT with methane gas captured at the Mugga Lane and West Belconnen landfill facilities used to power around 3000 homes.
The ACT has also set a range of targets to 2020 for secure and affordable energy which involves using clean energy technology.
City Services Minister Chris Steel said in the information paper that a serious conversation about what to do to reach the ACT’s landfill diversion targets is needed and should explore whether WtE is part of the solution.
“WtE technologies sit on a spectrum – not all of these involve burning or heating and some technologies are already in use in the ACT, for example through landfill gas capture at our Mugga Landfill site,” Mr Steel said.
“One of the key recommendations of the Waste Feasibility Study was the development of a WtE policy in the ACT to provide certainty to industry and the community about whether WtE has a role in the nation’s capital.
“As the Minister for City Services I want our community and industry to be partners in co-designing a long-term, informed and evidence-based policy vision for WtE in the ACT.”
The community consultation period will close on 29 November 2018.
Veolia has signed a $450 million 25-year operations and maintenance service agreement on a large-scale waste to energy facility in Kwinana, WA, capable of producing 36 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 50,000 homes.
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will commit up to $90 million towards towards the $688 million and will be able to process 400,000 tonnes of household, commercial and industrial residual waste per year.
Operations and maintenance of the facility will commence in 2021. Veolia operates 61 thermal waste to energy facilities around the world.
Macquarie Capital and Phoenix Energy Australia are co-developing the Kwinana plant, with co-investment by the Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF). Infrastructure company Acciona has been appointed to design and construct the facility. The project has been approved by the WA Environmental Protection Authority.
It is expected to produce cost-competitive base load power by processing household waste from local councils and contribute to grid stability in WA’s South West Interconnected System.
Technology that has been previously used in Europe will be implemented in the plant, which is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 400,000 tonnes per year – the equivalent of taking 85,000 cars off the road.
The plant will use the Keppel Seghers grate technology, which has seen use in more than 100 waste to energy plants across 18 countries. Metals recovered in the process are then able to be recycled, with the facility producing an ash byproduct that is commonly used as road base or for construction.
CEFC’s funding is part of a $400 million debt syndicate that includes SMBC, Investec, Siemens, IFM Investors and Metrics Credit Partners. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is contributing a further $23 million in grant funding.
Veolia Australia and New Zealand Managing Director and CEO Danny Conlon said the project is an exciting development for Veolia in Australia.
“Adding to Veolia’s existing infrastructure in NSW and QLD, where we generate enough electricity to power 35,000 homes per year from waste, the Kwinana Project is another example where we will extract value from waste materials, delivering a clean energy source,” Mr Conlon said.
At a time when Australian businesses and households are seeing energy shortages and rising costs, Veolia is proud to be working with innovative partners to help deliver new, environmentally sustainable energy from waste”.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project provides a renewable energy solution for reducing waste going to landfill.
“The use of combustion grate technology is well established in Europe and North America but has not yet been deployed in Australia,” Mr Miller said.
“More than 23 million tonnes of municipal solid waste is produced annually in Australia and this project could help to divert non-recyclable waste from landfill and recover energy in the process.”
CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said the landmark project was the CEFC’s largest investment in WA to date.
“Creating energy from waste is an exciting and practical way to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, while also delivering cleaner low carbon electricity,” Mr Learmonth said.
“The average red lid wheelie bin contains enough waste to produce up to 14 per cent of a household’s weekly power needs. This investment is about harnessing that energy potential, while safely diverting waste from landfill.
“We are pleased to be working alongside Phoenix Energy Australia, Macquarie Capital and DIF in bringing this state-of-the art technology to Australia. We congratulate the Western Australian government and the participating councils in embracing this 21st century approach to waste management,” he said.
Macquarie Capital Executive Director Chris Voyce said the Kwinana plant is expected to employ around 800 workers, including apprentices, during its three-year construction phase, and some 60 operations staff on an ongoing basis.
“Macquarie Capital is pleased to be contributing to the supply of sustainable and secure renewable power to Australia’s overall energy mix,” Mr Voyce said.
“As an adviser to, investor in and developer of renewable energy projects around the world, we see waste-to-energy as an effective example of adaptive reuse: reducing the pressures on landfill by diverting it toward the generation of clean energy,” he said.
CEFC Energy from Waste lead Henry Anning said the CEFC is pleased to play a role in demonstrating the business case for large-scale waste to energy investments in Australia in the future.
“Australians produce almost three tonnes of waste per person per year. While the priority is always a strong focus on recycling and organic waste management, there is still a considerable amount of household waste from red-lidded bins ending up as landfill, where it produces a large amount of emissions,” Mr Anning said.
“Energy from waste investments such as the Kwinana plant are about creating new clean energy opportunities for Australia, while offering councils and households a practical and innovative way to manage waste. Just as importantly, they can significantly cut methane emissions produced by landfill.”
With the addition of the Kwinana facility, the CEFC has now made six large scale investments to reduce waste-related emissions.
The proposed plant would generate both steam and electricity which can be directly in the paper mill or exported to the grid. It would replace two gas-fired boilers and would produce around 30 megawatts of electricity and 150 tonnes of steam per hour.
The EPA’s assessment of the applications will consider issues such as best practice technology, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, waste fuel composition, compliance with waste hierarchy, potential risks to human health and the environment from air, noise, disposal of fly ash, wastewater treatment and operational contingencies.
It follows a community public meeting held earlier in July, which found there was significant support for the proposals, with many submitters commenting the technology is already operating safely overseas, there are environmental benefits of less waste going to landfill and economic benefits of local job creation.
EPA Development Assessments Director Tim Faragher said the works approval application was originally open for public comment in June and EPA received 115 submissions.
“EPA also ran a community conference in July to hear concerns from those that made submissions. This further consultation period allows interested community members to make further comments on the new information that Australian Paper has submitted,” Mr Faragher said.
When making a final determination, the EPA will also consider all public submissions and the outcomes of the community conference.