In late December 2019 it was announced that, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), the Federal Government has committed up to $75.5 million in funding to support Australia’s second large-scale energy-from-waste (EfW) plant.
The $511 million plant, to be located in the Rockingham Industrial Zone in Western Australia, will help tackle Australia’s rising waste management problem by diverting waste from landfill.
It will also generate renewable baseload energy to support WA’s electricity network.
When complete, the East Rockingham Resource Recovery Facility (ERRRF) will process approximately 300,000 tonnes of residual waste a year, reducing annual emissions by more than 300,000 tonnes of CO2-e, the equivalent of taking approximately 64,000 cars off the road.
The state-of-the-art facility will also generate 29 Megawatts (MW) of renewable baseload electricity for the South West Interconnected System – enough to power more than 36,000 homes.
The ERRRF project is co-developed by New Energy Corporation, Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI), and Tribe Infrastructure Group (Tribe). Tribe also acts as financial advisor to the project. Co-investors in the project include John Laing, HZI and ACCIONA.
The CEFC is committing up to $57.5 million in project finance and ARENA is providing a grant of $18 million.
The ERRRF has entered into a power purchase agreement for 25MW of its generating capacity. It has also secured long-term supply contracts for a significant portion of its waste from the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council and the City of Cockburn.
The ERRRF is the first of its kind in Australia to use ‘waste-arising’ contracts – giving councils the ability to continue to pursue waste reduction targets with waste supply commitments to the ERRRF.
New Energy Corporation Chairman, Enzo Gullotti, said the waste-arising model meant that councils would only pay for the capacity they used and would not be penalised if they successfully implemented waste reduction schemes.
“This is a win for the environment and represents real value for money for ratepayers who will be protected from the rising cost of landfill, particularly through the state’s landfill levy,” Mr Gullotti commented.
The ERRRF will use proprietary moving grate combustion technology supplied by HZI, whose technology has been successfully installed in more than 600 projects worldwide and meets the most stringent environmental requirements.
The ERRRF will process various residual waste streams, including municipal solid waste, commercial and industrial waste. The plant will also salvage around 72,000 tonnes a year of bottom ash which will be further processed for use in road bases and other construction materials.
CEFC waste sector lead, Mac Irvine said where waste could not be avoided or reduced, recycling and recovery of EfW offer a much better solution than landfill.
“Under the waste hierarchy, disposing of waste in landfill is the lowest order use of waste,” Mr Irvine said. “EfW facilities create a higher-order use for waste because they divert waste from landfill as well as recover energy from it.”
“They also recover other materials like metals, glass and aggregates that can be recycled to form part of a wider circular economy. This all leads to significant emissions reduction,” he said.
ACCIONA and HZI have been appointed to design and construct the facility, which will be located 40 kilometres south of Perth and just a few kilometres away from the country’s first large scale waste-to-energy plant in Kwinana (now under construction).
The ERRF is expected to employ approximately 300 workers, including apprentices, during its construction, and up to 50 operations staff on an ongoing basis when complete.
Furthermore, Suez and HZI will operate the facility under a 20-year operations and maintenance agreement.
Suez will also support the project by supplying it with commercial and industrial waste.