The CVGA has received $75,000 funding under the Collaborative Councils Sustainability Fund to analyse the business case for expanding the Hepburn Shire waste-to-energy system to all its neighbouring councils.
The project is also being backed by $15 000 contributions from both Macedon Ranges Shire Council and the City of Ballarat.
The project involves a Proof-of-concept to install a network of up to 70 waste-to-energy, micro-power stations to power community buildings across six regional shires. Equivalent to a 6 MW co-generation power plant, this network would divert 43 000 tonnes of organic waste from landfill, cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 000 tonnes (20 000 cars) and save rate payers over $9.5 million per year. The project has an estimated payback period of under four years and an average Return on Investment (ROI) for participating Councils of over 21%.
We hope the business case will confirm initial estimates that, at an upfront capital cost of $33 million, this system would annually convert the 43 000 tonnes of organic waste collected by the six participating councils each year and convert into:
- 5.44 MW of electricity
- 6 MW of heat
- 10 000 m3 of class A water p.a.
- 3000 tonnes of nutrient rich ‘soil conditioner’ p.a.
If successful, this would be the first such system in regional Australia. The particular attractiveness of this approach for regional municipalities is that it is modular, relatively low-cost and easily scalable.
Like Lego, the power-stations consist of pairs of 22 ft shipping containers (one to digest the fuel and the other to burn it and create electricity) that can be attached to hospitals, library’s, pools or office buildings. If demand increases or other buildings added, more shipping containers can be purchased and joined up, or they can be moved on trucks like mobile disaster-relief power generators.
Alternative options now being explored provide for increased flexibility by potentially not exporting the liquid fuel slurry to the individual buildings to be turned into methane and burnt to run an electricity turbine, but to export on the already processed methane or electricity through a process of virtual net metering (which means putting the energy or methane into the system at one end and taking out different methane or energy at the building but counting them as if they were the same electro or gas molecules).
With the support of Hepburn and Macedon Ranges Shire Councils as well as both the relevant Resource and Recovery Groups (Loddon Mallee and Grampians Central West), a Request for Tender process was run that invited seven consulting groups to tender. Five responded and two were chosen to work together to deliver the project:
- Blue Environment (lead agency)
- Wood & Grieve Engineering (the business that developed the initial Hepburn project and specifications)
The Project Team has met including all councils and the project has been commenced.