Energy from Waste plants recover energy and produce electricity from the combustion of non-recyclable waste.
The technology for recovering energy through thermal waste treatment has been proven across Europe for decades, and Europe would not have met its EU waste recovery and landfill diversion targets without significant investment in Energy from Waste.
In Germany, for example, in 2015 around 19TWh of total energy produced came from the waste management sector. Unlike energy generated by wind and solar systems, electricity from Energy from Waste plants is available 24/7, 365 days a year.
Adopting Energy from Waste technology will ensure that wastes with recoverable value are not sent to landfill and, instead, are put to beneficial use.
Australia does not yet have a definition for energy created by the thermal treatment of waste.
In the United States, energy created by the thermal treatment of waste is classified as renewable energy. The USA Environmental Protection Agency states that “Energy recovery from the combustion of municipal solid waste is a key part of the non-hazardous waste management hierarchy, which ranks various management strategies from most to least environmentally preferred. Energy recovery ranks below source reduction and recycling/reuse but above treatment and disposal. Confined and controlled burning, known as combustion, can not only decrease the volume of solid waste destined for landfills, but can also recover energy from the waste burning process. This generates a renewable energy source and reduces carbon emissions by offsetting the need for energy from fossil sources and reduces methane generation from landfills”.
In Europe, according to the EU legislation the biodegradable fraction of municipal and industrial waste is considered biomass, thus a renewable energy source. The energy output from European Waste-to-Energy plants is about 50% renewable.
One Megawatt (MW) is 1,000,000 watts of electricity. A watt of electricity is a measure of power.
A Megawatt hour (MWh) is equivalent to one million watts of electricity being used or generated for one hour.
Megawatt hours is the standard unit in which electricity is bought and sold.
One MW would power the equivalent of about 1000 average homes.
If Queensland maintains a “business as usual” approach to refuse disposal and waste recycling, south east Queensland’s 11 landfills will have no capacity by 2040.
Diverting thousands of tonnes of suitable waste away from landfill and into a best-practice Energy from Waste plant will extend the life of south east Queensland’s constrained landfills and also provide an additional, baseload electricity source for Queensland residents and businesses.
Queensland has the opportunity to benefit from successful European and UK experiences and incorporate Energy from Waste as part of the solution to sustainable, best practice waste management.
By capturing up to 500,000 tonnes of suitable waste per year, REMONDIS can generate up to 50MW of baseload renewable electricity for Queensland households and businesses.
The Queensland Government announced in May 2018 in its “Transforming Queensland’s Recycling and Waste Industry, Directions Paper” that it will “develop a policy to promote safe and sustainable delivery of waste-to-energy”.
The decision by the Queensland Government to reintroduce a levy on waste going to landfill provides important encouragement and support for more responsible treatment of wastes, including recycling and beneficial reuse, and will extend the life of landfills for those wastes where no other options are available.
The Government stated in its Direction Paper that Energy from Waste should be seen as a “complementary measure in a society that achieves significantly higher rates of recycling”.
In the UK, more than 60 Energy from Waste plants were granted development approval in the 10 years to 2016.
There are hundreds of Energy from Waste plants across Europe, which would not have met its EU waste recovery and landfill diversion targets without significant investment in Energy from Waste.
The technology used in Europe is tried and tested and known to be successful.
The European Commission, a world leader in waste management standards, encourages construction of “state-of-the-art energy-efficient” Energy from Waste plants.
In its paper “The role of waste-to-energy in the circular economy”, the EC provides guidance to Member States “when reviewing national waste management plans and assessing the need for additional waste-to-energy capacity for the treatment of non-recyclable waste” to “create new capacity for the treatment of residual waste”.
The report goes on:
“Where the creation of new capacity for the treatment of residual waste appears justified based on the assessment of all the factors mentioned above, Member States should pay particular attention to the use of state-of-the-art energy-efficient technologies and to the size and location of the plant.”
There are far more Energy from Waste plants under construction than closing across Europe. Some EfW plants have closed or are closing across Europe due to their age or profitability. However, these plants are mostly rebuilt and retrofitted to further ensure security of disposal.
Yes. As at February 2019 there were at least seven facilities approved or awaiting planning approval across Australia, including five approved EfW projects in Western Australia and Victoria:
- Phoenix Energy
at Kwinana has WA EPA and State Government approval. In October 2018, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation provided support and financial backing for the project. The $668 million facility, which is being co-developed by Macquarie Capital and Phoenix Energy Australia, will be located in the Kwinana Industrial Area around 40km south of Perth. Once completed, it will convert up to 400,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste into 36MW of baseload electricity, enough to power 50,000 households. The plant will also be capable of processing commercial and industrial waste and construction and demolition waste from a range of sources including local councils in the Perth metropolitan area. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. http://www.phoenixenergy.com.au
- Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council’s Energy from Waste project at East Rockingham has WA EPA and State Government approval. The project will divert 96% of the EMRC’s residual household waste from landfill (approximately 300,000 tonnes per annum) into baseload renewable energy, producing 28MW of electricity at full capacity - enough to power 36,000 homes. A consortium of Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI), New Energy Corporation and Tribe Infrastructure Group was selected in 2017 as the preferred tenderer. http://www.newenergycorp.com.au/projects/perth-metro-wa/
- The Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council is building a wood waste to energy project to further develop its Hazelmere Recycling Centre (located approximately 14 km from Perth). The plant will be based on pyrolysis technology using an indirect-fired pyrolysis kiln to produce synthesis gas (syngas) for use in internal combustion gas engines for power generation. http://www.epa.wa.gov.au/proposals/hazelmere-wood-waste-energy-plant
- Port Hedland, Western Australia. New Energy Corporation Pty Ltd has approval to construct an 18MW energy from waste plant that will process between 70,000 and 130,000 tonnes of waste per annum. The plant is expected to be operational in 2019.
- Latrobe Valley, Victoria. Australian Paper has approval for a 225MW thermal energy from waste plant that will process 650,000 tonnes per annum of municipal solid waste and commercial and industrial waste. https://www.australianpaper.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Media-Release-AP-SUEZ-EfW-partnership-070219-Final.pdf
- Laverton North, Victoria. Recovered Energy Australia is in the design and application stage for a 10MW gasification to energy plant that would process 200,000 tonnes per annum of municipal solid waste.
- Portland, New South Wales. Mt. Piper (Energy Australia and RE Group) are awaiting an EPA decision on an application for a 27MW energy from waste facility that would process 200,000 tonnes of waste per annum.
The proposal by Dial-A-Dump Industries’ Next Generation Pty Ltd was for an incinerator at Eastern Creek to operate 24/7 and provide enough energy to supply up to 100,000 homes.
In July 2018, plans for a waste-to-energy incinerator in western Sydney were rejected by the NSW Independent Planning Commission because of deficiencies with the proposal.
In its report, the Commission determined that the Eastern Creek plant proposed to incorporate waste types which are prohibited in NSW policy and therefore the application was considered non-compliant.
The Commission also found that the application did not reference a similar existing facility for comparison as is required by NSW policy, and some assessment reports contained fundamental issues.
The Commission therefore did not have confidence in the submitted proposal and decided to reject the application.