Shire of Collie to host $10m energy from waste plant

The Shire of Collie in WA has partnered with a circular economy startup to build a $10.4 energy-from-waste plant at its landfill site.

Brains behind the technology: Professor Chun-Zhu Li.

The Collie Resource Recovery Centre will divert household rubbish and biomass from landfill and convert it into commercial biochar, pyrolysis oil and wood vinegar using thermal technology.

The 1.5 tonnes per hour demonstration scale plant uses patented technology incubated at Curtin university and developed by its commercial spinoff Renergi.

It will convert 4,000 tonnes per year of municipal solid waste and 8,000 tonnes per year of forestry and agricultural waste. 

Bio char can be used as a soil conditioner or in road construction, where it also acts as a medium for carbon sequestration. Pyrolosis, or bio oil, is a synthetic fuel that can be used as a substitute for petroleum, as feedstock and in chemical manufacture and iron making. Wood vinegar can be used in horticulture.

Professor Chun-Zhu Li, who led the engineering team that developed the technology, told Government News with construction now completed, the plant is expected to begin operations in the next few months.

The ARENA-backed project was developed with investment from a private consortium linked to Sunshot Energy, which has previously expressed interest in commercialising the technology at other regional locations.

Professor Li says there has been interest form many other local governments. “They’re all waiting to see how this one works,” he said.

New bioenergy industry

Launching the plant this month, federal energy minister Chris Brown said it was laying the foundation for a new bioenergy industry in Collie.

“This project demonstrates how all levels of government – federal, state and local – can work collaboratively to create jobs in our regional communities as the world decarbonises,” he said.

Local MP Jodie Hanns said the completion of the centre marked a milestone in Collie’s transition from it’s coal-based history.

The state government has announced a $547 million package to support the town of Collie and surrounding regions as it navigates the closure of its two state-owned coal-fired power stations by 2030, including Collie Power Station which will close in 2027.

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