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Waste to Energy

Sludge facility contractor Veolia begins HK$2 billion legal proceedings against gov’t

Hong Kong’s Secretary for the Environment, Wong Kam-sing, spoke with pride at the official opening of the HK$5.5 billion state of the art Sludge Treatment Facilities (STF) last week. The facilities are to be renamed in less malodorous terms as the T Park with the T standing for transformation. “It signifies Hong Kong’s dedication to ‘transforming’ waste into energy, which is a key part in the waste management strategy for Hong Kong,” Wong said at the opening ceremony at which Chief Executive CY Leung officiated.

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2016/05/24/sludge-facility-contractor-veolia-begins-hk2-billion-legal-proceedings-against-govt/

But one aspect of this world class project Wong did not elaborate on is that Veolia, the main contractor, that built the STF, has started legal proceedings against the Hong Kong government to recover HK$2 billion in cost overruns associated with the project. Mediation proceedings are expected to start soon.

The STF which is located at Tsang Tsui near Tuen Mun, was built by a joint venture in which Veolia had 60% and Leighton 40% under the auspices of a 15-year design build and operate contract. It has been quietly operating since April 2015, and is currently incinerating 1,200 tonnes of sludge per day that would otherwise be sent to landfills.

The sludge is delivered by trucks from Stonecutters Island Sewage Treatment Works and ten other wastewater treatment facilities. This is a considerable improvement over the situation 25-30 years ago when most of Hong Kong’s raw sewage went straight into the sea. The STF has a maximum capacity of 2,000 tonnes making it the largest facility of its kind in the world.

Hong Kong’s efforts in this area are gaining international recognition. In April this year, the STF together with Stage 2A of the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme, won a Distinction award in the category of Wastewater Project of the Year at the 2016 Global Water Awards. In addition, the architectural design of the STF was acknowledged by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers and the Institution of Structural Engineers with the presentation of the Grand Award in this year’s Structural Excellence Award.

The EPD is naturally pleased to have one of the key elements of its waste infrastructure in place. However, the joint venture that built the STF is believed to be less than happy at the way events have turned out.

T-Park. Photo: GovHK.

T-Park. Photo: GovHK.

The project was more than a year late. According to people familiar with the STF, this was in large part due to delays by the EPD and other government departments in providing the permits and consents that were necessary to proceed with the project. As a result, the contractor incurred higher charges and significant costs in implementing work-around measures.

Immigration Department

One difficulty the contractor faced was that it had anticipated building a barging point at the site since both the nearby Pillar Point power plant and WENT landfill have permanent barging points. But its application to the Lands Department was not successful. This meant that, instead of delivering large sections of the incinerator to the site on barges, the incinerator had to be taken apart and delivered to the site in smaller pieces by trucks.

T-Park. Photo: GovHK.

T-Park. Photo: GovHK.

This created additional welding work which could have been manageable but the contractor then suffered a further setback at the hands of the Immigration Department which refused to grant visas for foreign specialist welders. They were necessary as boilers operate under high pressure and therefore require very specific welding qualifications that are not available in Hong Kong. Even though this was pointed out to the Immigration Department, the visas were refused. The contractor therefore had to train local welders to overcome this issue. Even then very few passed the required test leading to significant delays in the installation of the boiler.

Fire Services Department

There were also problems with the Fire Services Department (FSD) in getting a Dangerous Goods License and Fire Services Certificate. The FSD was not familiar with the STF’s incinerator since there are no others like it in Hong Kong. Veolia therefore had to train FSD officers to enable them to better understand the plant and what the fire risks are. The contractor had to organise a trip to Europe to visit incineration plants with FSD officers and again a year later as the FSD officers had changed. This also generated significant delays.

Surplus power

One of the key features of the STF touted by the EPD is that it is a waste to energy plant. Indeed, waste-to-energy has become the central mantra of the EPD’s waste management strategy. However, the Environmental Impact Assessment for the project that was completed in 2008 notes: “As the surplus power is anticipated to be minimal and it would be unlikely for CLP to purchase the surplus power, the surplus power would not be sold. Therefore, no power transmission line will be constructed outside the STF site.”

While it was always envisaged that the plant would generate its own electricity, the idea of exporting it appears to have been an afterthought and to have first surfaced in the tender documents. But it is clear that there is no economic incentive for this move given the small amount involved – a maximum of 2MW per day when the plant is operating at maximum capacity possibly in ten years’ time. It is a political initiative to try and broaden the appeal of the EPD’s environmental strategy.

The EPD appears to have left it to the contractor to discuss this issue with a reluctant CLP. This is why the need for an export transmission line only became evident relatively late in the day. As a result, people say it took a long time for CLP to produce the final requirements as to where the connections should be located resulting in long delays before the design of the electrical plant could be finalised.

The EPD’s response to the claim appears to have been to do literally nothing and to pretend it didn’t exist. Faced with this inaction the contractor initiated mediation proceedings as stipulated in its contract.

‘Standard ploys’

But Veolia is not alone in encountering delayed payments by the Hong Kong government which has a number of standard ploys for dealing with claims. One approach is to attempt to bully contractors by pointing out that aggressive pursuit of a claim might hinder consideration for future government contracts. Another tactic is to delay payment for as long as possible in the hope this will encourage the contractor to settle for a lower amount.

Filibustering?

The problem has become so pervasive that 14 international chambers of commerce in Hong Kong sent a letter to Jasper Tsang, the president of the Legislative Council, last February outlining their concerns. The letter pointed out that the delays in payment to contractors was jeopardising the health of consultants and contractors and the whole construction supply chain and could lead to financial problems, the need for layoffs and job losses.

The letter was sent to Tsang in the belief that it was the filibustering and political posturing in Legco that was delaying the approval of funds to be paid to contractors.This is certainly one reason. Another is the chronic culture of risk aversion and self-preservation that pervades the civil service which discourages people from taking big decisions.

The management of the STF project and the handling of its claim is a prime example. The default position of ministers is to avoid taking decisions, and thus responsibility, which could result in criticism, public humiliation and possibly harm their pensions. This aversion to risk is immediately picked up by their civil servants who know they cannot rely on support from their seniors. So for the same reasons they too will avoid involvement with ‘risky’ projects and taking responsibility for decisions.

Government departments can just about bring themselves to ask Legco for additional funds so long as they can justify it in terms of increasing costs of materials and labour. But this approach is unlikely to be successful with Veolia’s claim since it involves additional funding amounting to some 40% of the original price of the project. That will take some explaining. The EPD appears to have taken the view that if the mediation process is able to achieve a settlement, this will make it easier to approach Legco for funds.

The EPD is still smarting from the mauling it received at the hands of the Public Accounts Committee in December 2015 when it was accused of deliberately misleading Legco over the remaining life of Hong Kong’s landfills. It denied the accusation but the experience has increased the EPD’s reluctance to return to Legco since it is aware its reputation has been undermined and that it will be subjected to close scrutiny.

None of this bodes well for an early resolution of the STF claim or indeed other infrastructure related claims. Nor will it enhance Hong Kong’s reputation as place in which to invest and do business. The Hong Kong government has already acquired a reputation for being a slow payer. This will encourage contractors to further pad their tenders as they factor in government risk. This will ultimately increase the cost of Hong Kong’s infrastructure to the taxpayer.

It is unlikely this situation will improve in the near future since there is nothing to suggest that the political situation in Hong Kong will improve sufficiently to allow Legco to get on with its work in a less partisan manner. Further the civil service is unlikely to break out of the current culture which is paralysing government and exerting a dead hand over Hong Kong.

From Waste to Energy – Development & Use of Renewable Energy in Sewage Treatment Facilities

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Slimy, grimy and good for the city: Hong Kong plant treating 1,200 tonnes of sludge daily to welcome the public

State-of-the-art facility to feature guided tours, rooftop garden and spa services

A waste treatment facility located next to a Hong Kong landfill is due to open to the public and reveal that it offers even more than processed sludge.

Located next to West New Territories Landfill [1] in Tuen Mun, T.PARK [2] is set to offer the public a chance to learn about the state-of-the-art facility featuring interactive guided tours, a rooftop garden with views of Deep Bay and neighbouring Shenzhen, and even spa treatment services.

The facilities are due to open to the public free of charge on June 29. An online reservation is required in advance.

While T.PARK is set to be unveiled, its sludge treatment operation has been up and running since April last year. The HK$5 billion project was approved by the Legislative Council [4] in 2009.

Currently it absorbs 1,200 tonnes of sludge daily – the output of the city’s 11 sewage treatment plants. It reduces the volume of sludge by 90 per cent before the waste by-product is transported to the adjacent landfill.

The facility can treat up to 2,000 tonnes of sludge daily, a figure projected to be achieved by 2030.

The publicly funded project adopts a “full life cycle” approach as it employs renewable energy, mainly from heat discharged during the incineration of sludge.

sludge-plant

Steam generated from the incineration process is then used to drive a turbine capable of producing enough electricity to power not just the facility but also 4,000 households.

sludge-plant-2

Wastewater is also processed in the project through a seawater desalination plant and reused for irrigation, flushing and cleansing purposes.

sludge-plant-3

The estimated annual operating cost is HK$220 million for the next 15 years. French waste management company Veolia is overseeing the project’s design, construction and operation.
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Source URL: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/1947337/slimy-grimy-and-good-city-hong-kong-plant-treating

European Commission keeps wasting energy on “waste-to-energy”

http://www.zerowasteeurope.eu/2016/02/20780/

In December 2015, the European Commission launched the Circular Economy Package, which aims to bring a major shift in waste management, product and process design policies and consumption patterns that minimize the landfill and incineration of waste. Less than two months after, on Thursday February 4, the European Commission presented the Roadmap for the Communication on Waste to Energy, which sets the scope and terms for the Communication on waste-to-energy that will be published later on in 2016. As we read through it, this roadmap is a worrying step on four counts.

Firstly, the European Commission refers in this roadmap to non-recyclable waste as the perfect feed for an incinerator. However, no definition of non-recyclable waste can be found in the Waste Framework Directive or in the new proposal. The Commission mixes up non-recyclable waste with mixed waste, and while it’s true that mixed waste can’t be easily recycled, these are two different things.

While mixed waste is a problem of separate collection; non-recyclable waste is mostly a problem of product design. If properly separated, there’s no non-recyclable waste only non-recyclable materials and the solution to them isn’t burning, but re-design to make them fit into the circular economy.

Secondly, this road-map especially worrying because it ignores the role of civil society and local governments, as the Commission aims at consulting only Member States’ regulators, “waste-to-energy” plant operators, RDF producers, the recycling industry and other waste burning industries (chiefly cement kilns). Neither municipalities, nor NGOs are included in the list, despite the fact that waste incineration remains highly contested from NGOs to local neighbourhood associations and resident groups, citing a wide range of concerns from health and environmental issues to financial problems.

Moreover, it is worrying because it doesn’t include a clear roadmap on how to tackle existing over-capacities and, actually pushes for more inflexible facilities requiring long-time investment, such as district heating. It ignores that in a circular economy, disposal facilities should instead be flexible, allowing waste managers to adapt progressively to higher recycling rates and lower levels of waste production. Linking houses’ heating system to residual waste generation through very expensive long-term facilities isn’t the best incentive to promote reduction, reuse and recycling

Finally, granting so called “waste-to-energy” a role of within the Energy Union, is everything but doing a favour for the climate, since “waste-to-energy” is one of the most polluting, expensive, and inefficient forms of energy production available today. Burning waste will not contribute to secure energy supply, nor to the promotion of clean renewable energy to secure the reduction of our carbon footprint and the mitigation of climate change

Unfortunately this isn’t a systemic change, just more of the same.

OWTFHoddesdon-vs-HKG

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Chinese waste-to-energy plant will be a mile in circumference

http://www.dezeen.com/2016/02/04/worlds-largest-waste-to-energy-plant-shenzhen-china-schmidt-hammer-lassen-gottlieb-paludan/

shenzhen-incinerate-energy

On the mountainous outskirts of Shenzhen, a fast-growing megacity in China, the largest waste-to-energy plant in the world is on the horizon.

You can bet that this disk-shaped trash-burning plant isn’t going to do any wonders for China’s notoriously bad air quality. It’s projected to burn 5,500 tons of trash per day — one-third of the waste Shenzhen produces. But the alternative isn’t very pretty, either. Fast Company reports:

In China, most waste currently goes to landfills or illegal dumps — piles of trash so huge that they can actually be dangerous, like the landfill in Shenzhen that collapsed in December and killed dozens of people nearby. It’s a space problem, but also a climate problem, because landfills emit potent greenhouse gases as garbage rots away.

Incinerating trash also pollutes, but a state-of-the-art plant like the one planned for Shenzhen can dramatically reduce pollution compared to a city dump. “Burning waste naturally creates pollutants, mainly carbon dioxide — something in the region of one metric ton of CO2 per metric ton of waste,” says [architect Chris] Hardie. “This does not sound great for sure, but when you compare it to putting the waste to landfill, one metric ton of waste will ultimately produce somewhere in the region of 60 cubic meters of methane as it decomposes — and this has more than twice the negative effect on global warming.”

The Chinese government plans to build 300 waste-to-energy plants in the next three years to combat the country’s growing waste problem.

This particular incinerator-to-be is designed by the Danes. As you might expect from those same folks who are shaming the rest of the world in wind power, the Shenzhen plant has a green twist.

The design features a pedestrian path that winds along its one-mile circumference and a roof covered in 44,000 square meters of solar panels.

We’re hoping that the location is far enough from civilization to avoid displacing Shenzhen’s citizens. (After all, this is coming from the same country that just decided to displace 9,000 people to build a huge, alien-detecting telescope.)

When the plant opens in 2020, Shenzhen’s citizens will be among the few people in the world who could reasonably say, “Hey, wanna take a lap around the incinerator?” And according to the image below, those visitors are going to have a grand time admiring the wonder that is incineration.

Here’s what the inside of the plant may look like. SHL Architects

Here’s what the inside of the plant may look like. SHL Architects

World’s first waste incinerator with carbon-capture tech

http://eandt.theiet.org/news/2016/jan/carbon-capture-waste-incinerator.cfm

Carbon-capture technology has been deployed for the first time as part of a waste incinerator in Norway’s capital Oslo.

The experiment at the Klemetsrud incinerator will remove climate-warming carbon dioxide from fumes created by burning industrial and household waste. If successful, the technology could represent a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions if deployed on a larger scale.

“I hope Oslo can show other cities that it’s possible,” said the Mayor of Oslo, Marianne Borgen, at an opening ceremony.

So far, carbon capture and storage technology has been experimented with in some fossil-fuel-fired power plants, but development has been hindered by high cost.

The Klemetsrud waste-to-energy incinerator, which generates heat to warm buildings in the city, produces 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – about 0.6 per cent of Norway’s man-made emissions.

The experimental carbon capture and storage removal system consists of five containers with a series of pipes and filters through which the exhaust gas is fed. It captures carbon dioxide at a rate of about 2,000 tonnes a year.

The experiment will run until the end of April. If the results are positive, a full-scale system could be built by 2020. Operators of the system say the carbon dioxide captured could be shipped to the North Sea and used for enhanced oil and gas recovery.

“We see potential in this market across the world,” said Valborg Lundegaard, head of Aker Solutions’ engineering business, which runs the test.

The operators have admitted that at the current price of carbon credits, the technology is nowhere near cost-effective. However, they claim that as the incinerator burns largely organic waste from food and wood, it actually removes CO2 from the natural cycle and not only that industrially produced.

“It won’t be possible to achieve goals set in the Paris agreement without wide use of negative emissions,” said Frederic Hauge, head of environmental group Bellona.

Development of new technologies capable of offsetting the devastating effects of rising temperatures globally was also in the heart of the UN climate talks in Paris in December.

Earlier this week, climate scientists confirmed that 2015 was by far the warmest year on record – another extremely hot year in a string that started at the beginning of the 21st century. There is no doubt, the scientists said, that the situation is getting worse and is caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite its potential, carbon capture and storage is still on the fringe. A 2015 report by the Australia-based Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute said there are just 15 big CCS projects in operation worldwide, including a coal-fired power plant run by Canada’s Saskatchewan Power.

CTA Letter to Legco on Hong Kong Waste Management

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Australia firm plans $520mln waste-to-energy plant in HCMC

http://www.thanhniennews.com/business/australia-firm-plans-520mln-wastetoenergy-plant-in-hcmc-57939.html

Australia’s Trisun Green Energy Co. has sought the Ho Chi Minh City government’s permission to conduct a feasibility study for a US$520 million waste-to-power plant.

The plant will use plasma gasification technology to burn waste at 3,000 degrees Celsius to turn it into electricity. It is expected to cover a 13-hectare area in the outlying district of Cu Chi, the city government’s website said on Wednesday.

Trisun Green Energy Co. said the plant could treat 2,000 metric tons of household waste, 1,000 metric tons of hazardous waste, and 2,000 metric tons of sludge every day, according to the website.

Ho Chi Minh City now discharges around 7,000-8,000 metric tons of waste every day and this is expected to increase by 8 percent every year.

Some 75 percent of the waste is buried, which causes wastage of land and pollutes the land as well as water sources. The rest is recycled or burnt.

At the national level, 85 percent of 23,000 tons of waste is buried every day.

Peeling Away The Layers from Waste-to-Energy

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