Yarra Valley Water, Victoria’s largest water utility, is constructing a Waste to Energy facility. The purpose built facility will provide an environmentally friendly disposal solution for commercial organic waste. The Waste to Energy facility sits next to an existing sewage treatment plant in Aurora and is expected to generate enough biogas to run both sites with any surplus energy to be exported to the electricity grid.
Yarra Valley Water Managing Director, Pat McCafferty, said similar facilities have been successfully used throughout the world, including Europe and the United States but extensive research was needed to determine whether it would work in the Australian market.
“This ground-breaking facility has the potential to change the way we use and value our assets in the Australian water industry. Instead of treating the organics as waste, we’re treating it as a product with value that can be reused to create and capture methane gas resulting in significant environmental and cost benefits. As well as helping to keep organics out of landfill we are also helping to make recycling commercial organic waste easier and more affordable for businesses,” said Mr McCafferty.
As part of Yarra Valley Water’s commitment to contribute to the health and wellbeing of current and future generations, the Waste to Energy facility will divert organic waste from landfill. The site will have the capacity to process up to 35,000 tonnes of organic waste each year, or approximately 100 tonnes per day, offering an affordable alternative to organic waste disposal at landfill.
The organic waste will be fed into an anaerobic digester (sealed vessel) where it is converted into methane or “biogas” in the absence of oxygen. The process captures the methane before it hits the environment and turns it into renewable energy. Renewable energy produced at the facility ensures that Yarra Valley Water’s and Victoria’s reliance on coal fired electricity is reduced.
Yarra Valley Water, Manager Waste to Energy Services, Damien Bassett, said that construction commenced in October of 2015 and commissioning would begin later this year, with full operation commencing in around April 2017. The construction phase has created jobs for 18 people, and there will be four new staff ongoing operating the plant following its completion.