14/09/2011 - 09:54

New Energy keen not to waste power opportunity

14/09/2011 - 09:54


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New Energy keen not to waste power opportunity

WEST Perth renewable energy business New Energy Corporation plans to build a $180 million waste-to-energy plant in Port Hedland to service the region’s growing population and the major resource projects in the Pilbara.

The Port Hedland facility will be New Energy’s first project, but the two-and-a-half year old business is also working on plans for a similar plant in Rockingham, which could be operational by the end of 2014.

This is the second waste-to-energy plant mooted for the Rockingham-Kwinana region after Phoenix Energy – formerly known as Moltoni Energy – unveiled plans for a $400 million facility for Kwinana’s industrial strip in April.

Phoenix plans to commence consultation with the community and industrial businesses on the Kwinana strip by the end of this year.

Chaired by Global Construction Services managing director Enzo Gullotti, New Energy’s managing director is Instant Waste Management co-owner and managing director Sam Mangione, while director Neil Martin brings the technical expertise to the team.

Mr Martin is the managing director of Entech – Renewable Energy Solutions and has worked on the technology that will power New Energy’s plants and convert organic waste into energy.

New Energy completed its community consultation in Port Hedland four weeks ago and claimed there was broad support for the project. Its plans for a similar facility in Rockingham could prove more divisive, however.

A site in LandCorp’s Rockingham Industry Zone has been earmarked for the plant and New Energy hopes to start community consultation within about ten weeks.

Mr Gullotti said most of the concerns about the technology could be summed up as “fear of the unknown” although the Port Hedland consultation did raise questions about water consumption and odour.

At this early stage in the company’s development, New Energy’s core management team and shareholders have provided the funds to establish the business, but Mr Gullotti said investor interest in waste was increasing.

A small group of private investors recently provided New Energy with some seed capital and Mr Gullotti said the management team was talking to a number of parties about taking equity in the business. 

There was also the option of going public, he said.

“Initially every door we knocked on no-one was interested, but particularly in the last six months we have gained significant momentum … obviously politically it’s a hot topic with the carbon tax and the waste management problem isn’t going away,” Mr Gullotti said.

New Energy has targeted the Pilbara for its growth potential as well as the likely waste stream from major resource projects like Chevron’s massive Gorgon project.

The Port Hedland plant is expected to convert about 120,000 tonnes of waste a year into 15 megawatts of power, enough energy to power 15,000 homes.

“If you look at the infrastructure throughout the whole north-west, one area that hasn’t evolved is the whole waste management area,” Mr Gullotti said.

“We have a business that has two aspects; one is about zero landfill, which is diverting waste away from landfill … obviously the other side is the energy side of the business where we are using the waste to generate energy.”

The Entech technology is a low-temperature gasification process that New Energy claims is as clean as natural gas.

The gasification or incineration process is initially fired by natural gas but then it draws 1.5MW from its own operation to run the plant, with the rest of the energy produced fed back into the grid or to industry.

“We are hoping that within six months we will have our EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) and planning approvals in place and if all the ducks line up (in Port Hedland) we would hope by September 2012 we would start construction,” Mr Gullotti told WA Business News.

“A lot is determined by the EPA approval process and so we think Rockingham will be six to nine months further out, because being in a metro area from a community consultation perspective we are expecting there will be a few more people wanting to get into every last detail.”


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