Australia’s first large scale waste-to-energy facility is taking shape south of Perth, marking a step forward for technology-driven green energy generation in Australia.
Avertas Energy’s facility is under construction in the Kwinana Industrial Area, 40 kilometres south of Perth’s central business district.
When it opens in late 2021, the facility is expected to process 400,000 tonnes of municipal solid, commercial and industrial waste – residual waste not suited for recovery or recycling – under agreements with local governments and other providers in the city’s greater metropolitan area.
It has been a long road for Waste-to-Energy (WtE) to reach Australia and Avertas Energy has been a trailblazer in securing appropriate government approvals and building awareness, educating and informing the community about this technology.
Avertas Energy will use Keppel Seghers moving grate technology which underpins modern WtE facilities that have been operating in Europe, the US and Japan for decades.
It is recognised as a proven and robust method, with moving tiles that push refuse through the boiler in an automated and controlled manner.
The facility features dual grate/boiler trains that convert energy from the waste into a high pressure steam that is sent to a steam turbine/generator system to produce electricity.
The facility will export 38 megawatts of electricity – enough to power circa 52,000 households – to the local grid.
It includes a highly advanced flue gas cleaning system to reduce and remove pollutants going into the atmosphere. Additionally, the emissions will be subject to a continuous emissions monitoring system that reports emissions online.
This stringent monitoring ensures emissions and local air quality remains within limits set by the Western Australian Government, which are aligned with the European Union Industrial Emissions Directive, which is considered the most stringent globally.
WtE is considered to be a vital part of the circular economy as it recovers much of the embodied energy within residual waste that is not suited for recovery or recycling. The process diverts waste from landfill and enables recovery of valuable metals.
The final output of the WtE process is fly ash and bottom ash, both of which are collected within the facility. Bottom ash is a useful construction material as it offers perfect structural properties.
It has been used for road construction purposes in some countries in Europe for decades.
Both ash types are useful materials for construction aggregates and Avertas Energy is in discussions with potential partners that will ensure complete diversion from landfill of all by-products of the WtE process.
WtE plays a central role in the waste hierarchy and – in conjunction with avoidance and reduction, re-use and recycling – supports government targets to divert waste from landfill and work towards carbon neutrality.
“Efficient WtE plants belong to the recovery category as they turn non-reusable and non-recyclable waste into energy, thereby reducing the need for landfilling and reducing environmental impacts,” Niels Jakobsen, Ramboll Senior Project Manager and Market Director WtE Australia says.
“That’s why WtE technology has been an integrated part of waste management systems in many European countries for decades.”
SUPPORTING THE LOCAL ECONOMY
During the construction and then operational phase, Avertas Energy is supporting the local economy, providing hundreds of construction jobs and ongoing roles.
“Construction of our facility has created about 800 full-time equivalent jobs during the three-year construction period,” Frank Smith, Avertas Energy CEO says.
“Once operational, we expect it will provide about 60 people with FTE opportunities in science, technology, engineering, corporate and operational roles.”
Avertas Energy is a co-development between Macquarie Capital and the Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF).
The project reached financial close in October 2018 and is expected to be operational by the end of 2021.
Acciona is the Engineering, Procurement and Construction Contractor of the facility and Operations and Maintenance services will be provided by Veolia under a 25-year agreement.
Internationally recognised WtE consultant Ramboll was engaged during the development phase and now, as the Owner’s Engineer, is tasked with delivering design review, site inspections and commissioning supervision throughout the project.
“We appreciate we’re doing something that has not been done here before, bringing a new technology and new way of responding to the challenges of waste management to Australia carries with it a high level of responsibility,” Smith says.
“Our project is backed by international expertise to design, build and construct, and Ramboll has been central in providing robust and sound advice to the project. We’re looking forward to making an important contribution to waste management solutions in Western Australia.”
Avertas Energy will set the bar for WtE facilities nationally, playing a dual role of introducing a new technology for the first time to Australia and supporting all levels of government to achieve both landfill diversion and carbon emission reduction targets.
With a community increasingly interested and aware of how waste is generated and treated, Avertas Energy is in an ideal position to educate and inform the public on the waste hierarchy, and the role energy recovery plays in it.
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