Ballarat is on the precipice of securing a $300 million investment in the city’s waste to energy future.
City of Ballarat signed a non-binding, exclusive agreement with Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB) on Friday, to begin a 120-day feasibility study into developing a plant in the Ballarat West Employment Zone.
If green-lit, construction could begin in August next year, with the facility operational by 2022. It would be the first built on Australia’s east coast.
MRCB and technical partner Babcock and Wilcox Volund expect the site could process up to 400,000 tonnes of waste per year, with other municipalities and BWEZ businesses committed to the prospect of offloading waste.
City of Ballarat expects the move would stabilise, but not decrease, municipal waste charges for ratepayers.
MRCB International CEO Ravi Krishnan said plants were “good assets for long-term, steady revenue”. But a final agreement would rest on the quality and quantity of waste received, and the “gate price” for councils to get rid of rubbish was yet to be determined.
“Overseas, it doesn’t necessarily reduce the price of electricity, it adds to the availability of energy to the grid,” Mr Krishnan said.
But City of Ballarat director of infrastructure and environment Terry Demeo confirmed council would only “possibly” have a seat at the table when it comes to determining the selling price for generated energy.
Energy at the plant would be generated through an incineration process, which boils water to create steam and power turbines to harness the generated power.
If an agreement is finalised, MRCB would have a contract to privately own and operate the plant for 25 years. The EPA is currently crafting standards the facility would have to meet in its operation.
The area is zoned so that no residential development could happen within one kilometre of facility. If the plan comes to fruition, recycling and green waste processes will remain the same. Ballarat produces 30,000 tonnes of waste destined for the tip each year.