Trash to treasure

Chloe FraserSound Telegraph
Federal environment minister Melissa Prince, Premier Mark McGowan and Avertas Energy chief executive Frank Smith turn the sod on the waste-to-energy facility at Kwinana.
Camera IconFederal environment minister Melissa Prince, Premier Mark McGowan and Avertas Energy chief executive Frank Smith turn the sod on the waste-to-energy facility at Kwinana. Credit: Picture: Chloe Fraser, Chloe Fraser INSET: The project is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 200,000 tonnes a year. Picture: Daniel Newell

Construction has begun on Australia’s first thermal waste-to-energy facility, which is touted to reduce landfill and bring with it more than 800 local jobs over the next three years.

Premier Mark McGowan and Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price turned the sod at the Kwinana site of the $668 million energy project last Friday, which is being co-developed by Dutch Infrastructure Fund, Macquarie Capital and Phoenix Energy Australia.

The facility, named Avertas Energy, is estimated to incinerate about 400,000 tonnes of residual waste from landfill each year, and convert the recovered energy to steam for electricity generation.

When operational it will generate and export enough energy to power more than 50,000 homes.

The project is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 200,000 tonnes a year.
Camera IconThe project is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 200,000 tonnes a year. Credit: Daniel Newell

Avertas Energy chief executive Frank Smith said the project was a chance to bring new technology to Australia, and to switch away from landfill and towards cleaner renewable energy sources.

“This facility represents a significant opportunity to reduce pressure on landfill capacity and create a new and reliable source of green power,” he said.

“I am really excited that WA is leading the way in this area.”

Premier Mark McGowan said thermal waste-to-energy was an “innovative and neat” solution to WA’s waste problem. “It will ensure that waste is dealt with in an effective way,” he said.

“Local communities don’t want to have landfill in their vicinity, and landfill as we know produces far more emissions than this process does — so this is a win for the environment, a win for industry, a win for jobs.”

A small group of protesters from the Alliance for a Clean Environment rallied outside the sod-turning ceremony, with members calling on the State Government to “ditch the incinerator and switch to sustainable, zero waste policy”.

Scheduled to open in 2021, the Kwinana facility is the first of two proposed waste-to-energy facilities to be built in the Rockingham-Kwinana area.

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