East Rockingham Waste to Energy’s project in partnership with Hitachi Zosen Inova promises to set a new bar for residual waste treatment within Australia.
Situated in Rockingham, South of Perth, a new 10-hectare facility will leverage off the overseas expertise of Waste to Energy (WtE) provider Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI) to deliver one of Australia’s first major WtE projects.
The WtE process involves the processing of residual waste to create energy from materials which would otherwise end up in landfill.
The process is complementary to recycling and composting and is initiated by the collection of waste from households and businesses, which is delivered to the facility.
The embodied energy from these materials is then returned to those households and businesses, supplying their power through the Western Australian power network.
East Rockingham Waste to Energy General Manager Jason Pugh tells Waste Management Review the project has adopted best practice global standards to set a benchmark in Australia. With no such WtE facilities within the country, that meant looking to European facilities for inspiration.
“It’s really important to us that this project is successful. The waste to energy projects under construction in Perth are the largest investments in waste infrastructure in Australia’s history. The waste sector is undergoing a generational transformation and WtE is a big part of that,” Jason says.
Hitachi Zosen Inova Australia Managing Director Dr Marc Stammbach says the support of the Western Australian State Government strongly assisted with the delivery of the WtE facility.
“The State Government embraced the technology as a preferred solution to landfill years ago, so the attitude around the plant was supportive. We are working towards having best-in-class waste management on the same level as it is in Europe.”
Jason adds that the community is the most important stakeholder in the project.
“The benefits of waste to energy over landfilling are now clearly understood by the community and our council customers. We have maintained an ethos of transparency, arming the community with the facts, and highlighting the benefits, which led to overall support,” he says.
“Those benefits include contributing to the emerging circular economy within Western Australia, offering an alternative to landfill for treating waste, and creating products that can support Australia’s construction industry.”
The facility will achieve a 96 per cent diversion rate of residual waste from landfill, ensuring that the wastes’ imbedded energy can instead contribute to the areas power demands.
“The project will treat 300,000 tonnes per annum of residual waste, the majority of that will come from residual (red top) waste bins from our council customers,” Jason says.
“The project will generate 224,000 megawatt hours of electricity and will operate for 8000 hours per annum. Additionally, we will produce around 60,000 tonnes of recycled aggregates and 12,000 tonnes of metals that will be recovered from bottom ash.”
Bottom ash is the non-combustible residue which is collected during the municipal waste incineration process. This material can include elements such as sand, bricks, aggregates, glass as well as ferrous and non-ferrous metals
The bottom ash treatment section of the plant is a $17-million-investment that will recover metals and repurpose the material for civil engineering applications. It can be used in road construction, drainage materials, cement products, kerbsides, and footpaths.
“It will cater for projects which are the responsibilities of our council customers,” Jason says.
Hitachi Zosen Inova’s Marc says the benefits and demand for repurposed bottom ash was considered when developing the initial site of the WtE plant.
“We planned to have a proper recycling solution for our bottom ash instead of landfill, so this means you need space for bottom ash to be treated. You also need to store it as treating the product can take time,” Marc says.
This treatment will also contribute to increasing diversion rates of residual waste ending up in landfill. The State Waste Strategy 2030 aims to have no more than 15 per cent of Perth’s waste going to landfill by 2030.
Situated in the Kwinana Industrial Area, offering truck access off the Kwinana freeway at Mundijong Road, East Rockingham’s WtE plant doesn’t impact any nearby residential areas. What it does, however, is allow customers to enter and exit the plant freely.
“We need to service councils coming from the north of the river, so we designed the facility with space in mind. With more space we will be able to manage large trucks and trailers to service our council customers,” Jason says.
HZI Supporting Industry
Selecting internationally proven and trusted technology was essential for East Rockingham Waste to Energy during the development of the project, and for Jason, HZI was the obvious choice.
“When we looked worldwide, we recognised that HZI was a market leader. It has the most established reference plants throughout Europe and Asia. It also brings the whole scope of processing equipment,” Jason says.
“Having a single partner responsible for the waste to energy process equipment was critical, it is so important that the project is successful and using HZI products and services gives us the best chance to accomplish that.”
Jason adds that HZI support for the project continues from the construction phase through to the operations of the WtE plant.
“HZI will continue to develop technology at the leading edge of the industry. One of the great things about our partnership is that HZI not only supplies the technology but also operates the plant with SUEZ on a 25-year basis,” Jason says.
HZI’s Marc Stammbach says that the company’s experience with WtE plants overseas played a major role in providing the product vision required for the first HZI project in Australia.
“HZI designs and supplies everything from the chute to the stack, including the moving grate, boiler, flue gas treatment, bottom ash recycling, all auxiliary equipment and fans,” he says.
“The design of these components is continuously being optimised but importantly it’s the integration of all the overall process that provides our customers with the best outcomes. The installation of all these products is now fully underway together with construction partner Acciona.”
HZI’s extensive international experience is also benefiting the project as it moves to full operations.
The projects appointed operator, EROC (a joint venture between SUEZ and HZI) has appointed an experienced plant operator from the United Kingdom. The next level of staff will be hired locally, with HZI using its established education programs and training to ensure the facility’s performance.
Groups of 12 people will attend the trainee program, which is coordinated from Zurich. In the course, employees gain experience for the operation and maintenance of facility components.
“The employee training course is part of the package we deliver. We don’t only supply the products, we also supply the necessary training to maintain an operational standards and asset performance,” Marc says.
HZI is also working to improve the efficiency of its services, with upgrades already in development for facility components.
“We are constantly improving on the combustion itself and improving in heat recovery,” Marc says.
“If we have higher efficiencies, we have less corrosion and less overheating. This will improve the quality of the ash. It also means that equipment can have a improved lifecycle performance, refurbishment cycles are reduced, and the viability of our facilities increase.”
In time, it is hoped that the experience of running WA’s new WtE plant will serve as an example for the wider waste sector within Australia to follow.
“We are going to learn more about Perth’s waste than ever before. By the time we have been operating for two years we are going to have a great database of information. This data will only help the industry going forward to design more efficient contributions to the circular economy.”
This contribution will also aid the Western Australian Government’s Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030, which aims to move the state towards becoming more sustainable.
“For us, the facility is a great example of the circular economy in action. There is no use talking about the circular economy, action is required. So that is what we are hoping to provide, action,” Jason says.
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