Creswick could soon be the home of Hepburn Shire’s first waste to energy facility.
Hepburn Shire Council has been investigating a waste to energy project for a number of years.
In 2017, Council was successful in receiving a $650,000 grant from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), through the New Energy Jobs Fund, to assist with implementing an organic waste to energy project within the shire.
Council also committed $525,000 towards funding the full scale waste to energy plant.
Council is interested in this technology because of its potential to reduce the financial and environmental impacts of waste management, while generating electricity and heat.Dominic Murphy
Hepburn Shire Council’s Sustainability Officer, Dominic Murphy, said the waste to energy process was called anaerobic digestion.
The process involves organic waste breaking down to produce biogas, which can then be burnt as fuel, and digestate, which can be used as fertiliser.
“Council is interested in this technology because of its potential to reduce the financial and environmental impacts of waste management, while generating electricity and heat,” Mr Murphy said.
“It is intended to begin with a pilot project of 200-500 tonnes annually, which will allow Council to optimise the technology and determine whether this will be viable within the Hepburn Shire, ongoing.”
He said the idea had been well received during community consultation sessions on the topic of waste to energy being undertaken in the region.
Creswick Transfer Station was chosen as the most suitable site for a larger scale waste to energy plant.
The site has existing equipment but a number of works including electricity connection, site access works and shed construction would need to be completed before the pilot can commence.
Although the pilot project would mean initially only processing about five to six tonnes of organic waste a day, if the program is successful, it could be scaled up to process around 1500 to 2000 tonnes annually, significantly reducing the volume of waste being sent to landfill.
While anaerobic digestion technology is widely supported internationally, it is relatively rare in Australia.
It is proposed the large waste collection and transport distances in the shire and high potential for waste contamination mean the project comes with some risks, but it is hoped the pilot project will allow these parameters to be addressed on a smaller scale.
Through managing waste within the shire, there are further opportunities to develop local industry and provide local jobs while retaining the financial benefits at a local level.
Council is preparing to implement the funded pilot project in Creswick, with plans for it to begin operation in early 2019.
At time of print, the proposed site was before council but had not been passed.