CEFC finance helps turn waste into fuel

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has committed $30 million to a resource recovery company to deliver an innovative alternative fuel plant in New South Wales.

ResourceCo will build two new plants that will transform selected non-recyclable waste streams into solid fuel, known as Processed Engineered Fuel (PEF).

The first plant is to be built at Wetherill Park in Sydney and the second to be in another Australian state yet to be announced.

PEF is used in cement kilns, reducing the reliance on coal and other fossil fuels.

This fuel will initially be used locally, but will also be exported as an alternative to coal and gas for cement kilns in Asia.

CEFC Bioenergy and Energy from Waste Sector lead Henry Anning said PEF demonstrated the incredible potential to transform waste, that would otherwise go into landfill, into a baseload energy source as part of Australia’s future clean energy mix, while also lowering emissions.

“Through this investment with ResourceCo we are demonstrating the ability to use the latest energy from waste technology to deliver cleaner energy solutions to the Australian economy,” Mr Anning said.

“Our research into the bioenergy sector has identified investment opportunities of between $2.2 billion and $3.3 billion to 2020 in the urban waste industry.

“Commercial viability has been driven by a combination of rising landfill gate fees and falling technology costs.

“Waste levies in states such as NSW, the ACT, South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria, are improving the business case for this kind of alternative use of the waste, rather than it going into landfill.”

The CEFC finance will enable ResourceCo to accelerate the development of the Wetherill Park plant, and proceed with a similar facility in another Australian state in due course.

When operational, the Wetherill Park plant will process around 150,000 tonnes of waste a year to produce PEF and recover other commodities such as metal, clean timber, and inert materials.

As an indication of the plant’s environmental credentials, it has been successful in securing $5 million in grant funding from the NSW Environmental Trust under the Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.

The technology is also eligible for Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) due to the diversion of waste from landfill.

Mr Anning said generating heat and electricity from bioenergy and waste resources is cost competitive with other new-built energy generation.

However, the technologies are not yet widely deployed in Australia.

“Being a throw-away society is a luxury Australia must reconsider. As a nation, we’re producing about 23 million tonnes of landfill each year, causing a growing problem with potential air, water and land quality impacts and generating ongoing monitoring and remediation liabilities,” he said.

“Reusing waste not only makes economic sense, it makes good environmental sense, through the reduction of landfill and landfill gases and, in the case of fuel production, the ability to replace fossil fuels.”