As a local community group, Transition Town Guildford was recently invited to a presentation by the East Metropolitan Regional Council (EMRC) on their proposed new Resource Recovery Park for Hazelmere. Waste and Recycling sub group members Barb Frey and myself attended. I was initially concerned that “Resource Recovery Park” might be PC-speak for “Rubbish Dump” and Hazelmere has had more than enough of that in the past. What followed was a plan for a recycling and power generating centre that appeared to be state-of-the-art though it does need some fine tuning.
Here are the basics:
Just northwest of the junction of the Gt. Eastern Hwy. Bypass and Stirling Crescent.
We did raise concerns about increased traffic congestion in an already strained area with large numbers of trucks trying to access the site. EMRC said they will carry out a full traffic study before construction. The current plan relies on access from the Lloyd St extension which is nowhere in sight. Another possible access is directly off the Bypass.
Wood shredding. Previously used for wood chips- recycled for chipboard.
Mattress recycling. Mattresses are diverted from landfill and stripped/recycled.
Wood / Pyrolysis Plant
Wood is to be shredded and fed in to a pyrolysis plant. Electricity is generated by wood being heated and the gasses burnt to run a generator. 11000 tonnes of wood is expected to be burnt to produce 3MW of power annually. This would power 3000 homes. BioChar would be produced as a by-product. EMRC has yet to receive environmental approval for the pyrolysis plant.
Kerbside rubbish collection material will be sorted and recycled.
Kerbside green waste will be shredded then sent to landfill. This seemed like a real waste of mulch. We suggested the mulch should be made available to the public.
This is the best (in my view) bit. The EMRC will run a tip shop at the site where still useful collected items will be sold to the public.
To educate the public on recycling. Very worthwhile!
Most of the construction is expected to be completed in the next 2 years.
All told it was a good presentation. There are a few bugs to iron out but we appreciated that the EMRC was consulting with the community as part of their project planning.
Image supplied by EMRC.
On August 22 Transition Town Guildford and Hills Sustainability Group hosted an eastern suburbs forum on the Greens “Energy 2029” plan. The forum was an outstanding success, with standing room only at the Old Midland Courthouse. Over 60 interested and concerned people attended what was alternately an interesting, thought provoking and alarming evening. We apologise to the many people who tried but could not get tickets to this event. We will book a larger venue next time!
Senator Ludlam explains Energy 2029 plan to a packed Old Midland Courthouse.
MC’d by our own Barb Frey, the first speaker was Greens Senator Scott Ludlam. Senator Ludlam briefly outlined the well-known issues around climate change and our energy greedy society before moving on to solutions to the problem. In 2012 the Greens commissioned SEN (Sustainable Energy Now) to carry out a detailed technical analysis of the electricity grid in Western Australia’s southwest with the objective of determining if it could be run entirely using renewable energy.
The answer is YES…..and it can be done by 2029.
Senator Ludlam was followed by Steve Gates from SEN with a technical but accessible explanation of how this could be achieved. The major problem with renewables in the past has been that they have difficulties supplying electricity continuously such as at night or when the wind doesn’t blow. These problems have been overcome by using a mix of technologies across the grid that essentially store energy during periods of excess allowing it to be used during periods of shortage. These are:
- Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST). Those towers surrounded by mirrors that can also store heat for days as molten salt.
- Solar Photovoltaic (PV). The friendly solar panels adorning so many of our homes.
- Wind energy. Wind turbines.
- Wave energy. Power generated from the movement of waves.
- Geothermal energy. AKA “Hot Rocks”.
- Bioenergy. Farmers earn extra income by planting native oil mallee trees that are used to generate power.
- Pumped hydro. During sunny/windy days excess electricity from PV’s and wind turbines is used to pump water to elevated dams which are used to generate hydro-electricity when needed.
The 19 MW Gemsolar CST plant in Spain.
All of these technologies are currently in use around the world and are rapidly decreasing in cost. They now challenge our current “dirty” fossil fuel generation systems in terms of capital cost even before health and environmental costs are considered.
I took two significant positive things away from the forum:
1. It can be done. The technology is available NOW and it is affordable.
2. The high turnout for this forum indicates a strong public interest in renewable energy and represents a demand for politicians to take immediate action to develop this type of plan.
Further details of the Energy 2029 plan are available here
Sustainable Energy Now (SEN) – http://www.sen.asn.au/
Hills Sustainability Group – http://www.hsg.org.au/
Midland Reporter article on the energy forum
Posted in Climate Change, Energy, Event, Media, Peak Oil
Tagged Concentrated Solar Thermal, Energy 2029, Midland Reporter, Old Midland Courthouse, renewable energy generation, Senator Scott Ludlam, Wind energy