While solar and wind have led Australia’s renewable energy uptake, a shift away from landfill in the Federal Government’s waste management policy suggests it’s time to focus on the forgotten renewable – energy-from-waste.
Chief Executive Officer of ResourceCo Energy, Henry Anning, said targets set by the National Waste Policy Action Plan, coupled with July’s announcement of a $190 million Recycling Modernisation Fund, signal a significant shift in waste management policy.
“Solar and wind renewables have previously held the focus of policymakers, but the move towards reuse and remanufacturing of waste here in Australia presents energy-from-waste in a new light,” he said.
“Gas and coal combustion still dominate as the providers for industrial process heat, despite energy-from-waste offering a viable, cost effective and environmentally sound option for energy-hungry manufacturers.
“Energy recovery from residual waste is a proven and successful energy solution widely adopted across Europe and the UK, and it’s time Australian businesses recognised the opportunity to reduce their long-term energy costs, risk and emissions.”
Managing Director of renewable energy engineering and advice firm, ITP Thermal, and author of ARENA’s Renewable Energy Options for Industrial Process Heat report, Dr Keith Lovegrove, said a greater focus on alternatives for heat supply, as well as long-term visionary decision-making, is required.
“Australian industry accounts for 44 per cent of the nation’s end use energy, and 52 per cent of that is process heat, with an indicative value of $8 billion per year,” he said.
“The level of industrial experience with renewable heat remains low, and we need to make it a priority to change this by removing barriers, including a low appetite for risk and short payback time expectations by the industry,” he said.
“Australia can be very competitive in a low emissions world by taking advantage of both its raw materials and renewable energy resources.
“The material ResourceCo makes for example, can be used in boilers to make steam that can be used for process heat, but it can also provide for power generation.”
Mr Anning said the fund’s unprecedented investment in transforming Australia’s approach to waste management and recycling will support innovation in the sector and provide confidence for industry investment.
“Financial pressures in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic are causing large manufacturers to examine cost pressures associated with generating heat, looking for long-term cost-effective alternatives,” he said.
“Some businesses have experienced price rises of up to 400 per cent in recent years, and with high gas prices likely to continue, it’s an obvious time for businesses to change tact.
“We’re providing a unique alternative heat solution to gas, coal or electricity in the form of a 90 per cent renewable heat source, at the same time diverting resources that would otherwise be destined for landfill.
“It’s about significant cost savings and responsible environmental management by partnering with large energy users to set-up the infrastructure and technology within their operations to utilise heat from recovered fuel.
“We’re also delivering solutions for businesses with existing boilers using between 100,000 gigajoules and a petajoule of natural gas by installing between a five and 40MW recovered fuel boiler.”
ResourceCo Energy manufactures processed engineered fuel (PEF) from commercial and industrial (C&I), and certain construction and demolition (C&D) materials.
These are primarily waste timber materials and include non-recyclable plastics, cardboard, paper and textiles.
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