A public forum on waste to energy to be held in Ballarat on Tuesday night is set to invigorate community conversation on the long-awaited fuel generating technology.
It comes after Ballarat City Council confirmed in May it was ‘very close’ to securing a private investor for its waste to energy facility at the Ballarat West Employment Zone.
The Courier spoke to Ian Rossiter, who is chairperson of Regional Sustainability Alliance Ballarat and the EPA Independent Landfill Expert Advisory Panel.
What are the waste to energy technologies that could apply to Ballarat?
“Wood waste biomass is one. There is an immense amount of wood waste that comes out of industry and from demolition that can be used to produce heat energy,” Mr Rossiter said.
Heat energy can also be generated burning waste paper and waste plastic.
“There would be concerns about combustion at the BWEZ site because to have efficient combustion you have to have chimneys and there is a height restriction at BWEZ because of the airport. There could be new technologies that could deal with that, so that would have to be investigated,” Mr Rossiter said.
Gasification is another waste to energy alternative. Organic or fossil fuel based materials can be converted into gas for fuel.
“Organic waste such as foods, manures from farms, animal carcasses, and all of the food product that is passed its use by date can be used. Overseas a lot of that is treated and ground up into a consistent liquid form and then it is fed into biodigesters,” Mr Rossiter said.
“That allows it to produce methane. Methane is very similar to natural gas so it can be very readily used for operating gas appliances. It can be injected into the gas mains and it can also be used for electrical generation.”
What would have to happen to make waste to energy facilities viable in Ballarat?
Mr Rossiter said it came down to investment and social license.
“For an investor to invest in those sorts of facilities they want to be sure they will have access to the facilities and to the feed stock in a consistent form and at a stable price,” he said.
We can certainly feel positive about the concept of waste to energy given its success in the region at Berrybank Farm and Beaufort Hospital.Ian Rossiter
“The next thing is social license. That is really about working through the processes to make sure the facility would be acceptable to the planning scheme and to local residents, that it does not negatively impact amenity in terms of lots of vehicles and noise. There needs to be a willingness of people to see its value, ensuring there is uptake of the energy that is produced.”
Waste to energy facilities can be provided by government, essential services, individual financiers, cooperatives or waste managers.
“There are different models for how these things work in different places. This is what we are going to explore on Tuesday night,” Mr Rossiter said.
“We can certainly feel positive about the concept of waste to energy given its success in the region at Berrybank Farm and Beaufort Hospital.
“As Ballarat grows and the emphasis on not taking waste to landfill grows, I think we are going to see a lot of excitement around potential new technologies, existing technologies and how we can position ourselves in the Ballarat region as a centre for renewable energy.”
The community forum on waste to energy will be held on Tuesday 19th June 2018 from 7pm at the Mid City Hotel, 19 Doveton Street North, Ballarat.