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Where will the project be located?
After an exhaustive investigation, New Energy selected a site in the Boodarie Industrial Estate, to the South West of South Hedland.
The Boodarie Industrial Estate proved to be the best location on the following grounds:
- Proximity to major road transport routes
- Access to major existing power infrastructure
- Location within the estate’s power generation precinct
- Proximity to major regional sources of waste
- Good separation from the nearest residential land (approx 6km)
- Alignment with the Port Hedland Land Use Master Plan
When will the plant be built?
New Energy is currently in the process of seeking environmental and planning approval for the facility. It is hoped that these approvals will be in place by the end of the first quarter of 2013 and construction can commence during the fourth quarter of 2013. If this can be achieved then the facility could be operational by the first quarter 2015.
For further information, please visit the Project Timeline page for the Pilbara project.
What wastes will the facility accept?
The gasification process is capable of handling almost any type of waste that contains carbon. These substances containing carbon are sometimes called ‘carbonaceous’ or ‘organic’. New Energy will invest in a Materials Recovery Facility, or MRF, to remove recyclable items such as concrete, bricks and metals. We will then recover energy from the remaining waste that would otherwise be going to landfill. The types of waste that will be gasified include municipal solid waste (MSW), plastic bags and wrapping, contaminated cardboard and timber packaging from construction and demolition projects and problematic waste such as used tyres.
At the request of industries operating in the region, New Energy is considering the possibility of accepting some waste oil and solvents but hazardous substances such as asbestos and waste pesticides will not be accepted.
Will there be jobs for people living in Port Hedland?
It is anticipated that the peak construction work force will be around 50 personnel and during operation the plant will require 30 personnel, some of whom will live locally and others who will work on a fly-in fly-out basis.
How does New Energy convert waste into electricity?
The New Energy facility will use the Entech proven gasification technology that breaks down the organic portion of wastes to produce a synthetic gas (syngas) that consists mainly of methane (the main component of natural gas) and carbon monoxide. This syngas is then burnt to produce electricity. Gasification provides many advantages over a process such as incineration because it is a two-stage process which extracts the organic materials into a gas before burning them to release their energy. This enables New Energy to tightly control the process and minimise the production of hazardous air pollutants.
What does the Town of Port Hedland think about the project?
The Council supports the development of this waste to energy project and looks forward to reviewing the planning application by New Energy. The project is looked upon as a key to the future waste management plans of the Council.
Under what kind of Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines will the plant operate?
The facility will be the subject of thorough environmental assessments by the Environmental Protection Authority and the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC). The plant will only be built when all necessary approvals are in place.
When in operation, the facility will be operated under the terms of a stringent Environmental Protection Act licence and the supervision of the DEC.
The Directors and Management of New Energy are committed to environmental protection and understanding local community expectations. New Energy will convene a community liaison group to oversee the site operation to ensure that the interests of the Port Hedland community are safeguarded.
Emissions from the plant will be subjected to regular testing and the plant will have a continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) for a wide range of parameters which will be published in real time on our website for anyone to look at.
What about odour?
We do not expect odour to cause any problems for local residents. The site is located more than 5km from the nearest residential area and all wastes will be handled inside an enclosed building.
Ventilation air from the area of the plant where waste deliveries are tipped and sorted will be treated in the gasifier to destroy any odours.
What about noise levels?
The operations of the facility are fully enclosed and don’t generate much noise beyond the immediate vicinity of the Plant. As the plant is located remotely from residential areas, noise emissions will not be detectable in residential areas.
New Energy is completing computer modelling of noise emissions to demonstrate that the emissions meet the criteria defined in the Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997 at all times. New Energy is also seeking to minimise emissions by selecting low noise equipment.
How will water supply and usage be managed?
The New Energy Facility will use about 100,000 kL of water a year. Most of this water is used for either cooling in the power production process or wash-down water.
At this stage New Energy expects that water will be obtained from the Port Hedland Scheme supply but is investigating whether it can source either bore water or recycled water if this is available.
What about wastewater?
The wastewater generated in the facility (such as washdown water) will be re-used in the process. The small volumes of grey water and sewage generated in the offices and ablution block will be treated and reused appropriately or disposed of in an approved septic tank system.
Is gasification just incineration?
While gasification and incineration are both thermal processes, gasification provides significant advantages over incineration. Incineration is a mass burn technology with heat recovery to produce steam and/or electricity. Combustion of the waste may produce pollutant molecules such as dioxins and furans or unburnt volatile organics. Preventing the formation of pollutant molecules is difficult when the entire mass of waste is burnt, as the combustion process is harder to control.
In contrast, gasification converts the carbonaceous molecules in the waste into a syngas, which is then combusted in a gas burner for generating steam and/or electricity.
The syngas is produced under strictly controlled conditions, without the formation of flyash. Burning the carbonaceous molecules as a syngas, without the presence of fly ash, significantly reduces the risk of pollutant molecule formation. The combustion is much more effective, and can be more tightly controlled in a gas burner, rather than in association with the solid waste. This ensures that gasification minimises pollutant molecule formation in the combustion process, unlike incineration.
What will the hours of operation be?
The gasification and power components will operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week, but waste deliveries will be confined to between 5am and 5pm.
Will the facility have a visual effect on the area?
The New Energy facility will have little visual effect on the area. The main structure will be a colourbond steel clad building that will be significantly smaller than the adjacent HBI Facility.
A stack will be constructed to emit cleaned gases from the boiler. The body of the stack will be contained in the building, with only the top portion of the stack protruding from the roof.
What benefits will the facility bring?
- The facility will recover energy in the form of electricity from waste streams that are currently landfilled. The facility will produce enough electricity to cater for around 21,000 households
- The facility will generate renewable energy to help reduce the State’s dependence on fossil fuels and assist in providing a stable power supply for Port Hedland
- Greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by producing useful electricity from waste instead of landfilling it
- The facility will help with the closure of the South Hedland Landfill, as the majority of Port Hedland’s waste will be handled in the facility
- The Entech world-leading technology developed in Western Australia will be showcased at the site and exported to reduce the environmental impact of waste around Australia