A highly-anticipated waste to energy plant in Perth’s south is still at least two years away from being operational, prompting impatient councils signed on to lengthy waste agreements to consider canning their deals. The Kwinana Waste to Energy Project was originally meant to be operational by 2021 but has been riddled with issues, including COVID-19 delays, industry skills and materials shortages and even a Supreme Court case where a major partner attempted to leave the project. The Avertas Energy waste to energy plant is a joint development between Macquarie Capital and Phoenix Energy and was spruiked as a major Australian-first when it was announced by the Federal Government under its Advancing Renewables Program. Once operational, the plant would thermally treat up to 400,000 tonnes of household, commercial and industrial waste, converting it to steam to produce electricity. Construction of the estimated $668m facility in the Kwinana Industrial Area began in 2018 with an expected 2021 completion date — but that date has since been pushed out to December 15, 2025. One major thorn in the project’s side was multinational infrastructure conglomerate Acciona attempting to quit the project, taking the claim all the way to the Supreme Court of WA. Acciona argued it had met the definition of a force majeure event — a “get-out” clause — due to COVID-19 and the subsequent travel restrictions in WA. A force majeure event would have safeguarded Acciona from any liability, but the court found it was “not appropriate for the court to give Acciona the relief it seeks” and dismissed the proceedings. Avertas Energy confirmed in a statement that Acciona was still a partner of the beleaguered project, which remained “subject to some delays”. “We can advise that construction on the Avertas Energy project is continuing with our EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contractor Acciona however, like many similar projects, we are subject to some delays. We will confirm a new project timeline as soon as we are able,” the statement said. “There are existing contracts with Rivers Regional Council, Resource Recovery Group (formerly SMRC) and the City of Kwinana. The details of these contracts are commercial in confidence.” It said the project was “still forging ahead” and the co-developers were continuing to “work closely with all our partners” to deliver the facility. “The project is still forging ahead and we look forward to its commissioning and realising the environmental benefits of the project,” the statement said. In April, Avertas said it had “reached multiple milestones” moving the plant towards completion. “Two waste cranes are currently being constructed before they are lifted into the bunker. Additionally, the structural steelwork for bays four and five of the Air-Cooled Condenser has been erected,” it said in an online project update. “Concrete works for the eastern (out) weighbridge have been completed and the roads and pavement on the facility’s eastern side have been prepared and cast. “Finally, the installation of the structural steelwork for the Ash out-loading building has commenced on the southern side of the facility.” With no further updates since and growing impatience from several councils, some are considering pulling out of the agreement altogether. The City of Canning is just one of eight Perth councils that signed 20-year waste supply agreements with the Kwinana facility. In April, the city said the delays had forced it to sign multiple short term deals while it waits for the waste to energy plant to come online. Its existing short-term deal with the City of Cockburn from 2021 is due to end in June and the city has now signed up to a six-month deal with the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council to dispose of its waste at Hazelmere in the interim. The cost of the deal with the EMRC, which has the option of three more six-month extensions, has not been revealed but it is more than $750,000. A council report said city expected to start its waste to energy supply agreement in 2024 but with the “continued construction delays”, councillors questioned whether it warranted enough of a delay to cancel its contract entirely. Kwinana mayor Carol Adams said the city was maintaining its focus on its own position and contractual arrangements “based on the desires of our unique community”. “While the delay to the construction completion has resulted in the benefits of energy from waste not being realised as soon as expected, this is not of major concern to the city,” she said. “The city’s waste management contractual arrangements allow for a multitude of disposal and processing options across different waste streams. This allows the city to simply continue with pre-existing landfill.” The City of Mandurah, which had also signed up to use energy plant once operational, has been contacted for comment. Not far from the Kwinana plant is the East Rockingham waste to energy plant, which began construction in 2019 and is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2026.