A move by Lithgow City Council to generate more jobs by lobbying EnergyAustralia to build two more generating units at Mt Piper is unlikely to succeed because it goes against the company’s policy.
Councillors agreed at last Monday’s meeting to push the power giant to expand Mt Piper’s current two generating units to four, the original number planned when the power station was constructed.
However an EnergyAustralia spokesperson confirmed that under EnergyAustralia’s climate change strategy, which they published in 2007, committed to not building any greenfield, traditional-technology coal-fired power stations.
The spokesperson said that included additional units at Mt Piper.
Instead the company will focus on the feasibility study for its proposed waste-to-energy project, which would involve constructing a boiler that would burn non-recyclable waste and converting it to electricity.
“We’re focused on finding new ways to generate reliable, affordable and cleaner forms of energy,” the spokesperson said.
“That’s why we’re excited by the potential of our energy recovery project. If viable, it will allow Mt Piper to produce more energy for the same amount of coal.”
If the proposed project does go ahead, 100,000 tonnes of household material would be brought to Mt Piper from Sydney every year and fed into a purpose-built boiler.
The steam produced by the boiler would feed into the plant’s turbines, generating electricity and increasing energy production.
The spokesperson said emissions would be managed “through a combination of technology and careful selection of the materials used as fuel”.
The project would have to “fully comply with the New South Wales EPA’s Energy from Waste policy”, the spokesperson said.
“The policy sets out criteria that apply to recovering energy from waste and is aimed at ensuring any project poses minimal risk to people or the environment.”
“The reality is that today new projects need community backing to proceed. We’re confident impacts can be managed or avoided but we’re doing the study to be absolutely sure, so any project we do is environmentally and socially acceptable.”
Road transport for the waste to Mt Piper was a likely option, the company said, but it is also investigating rail, or a combination.
Transporting the material by truck wouldn’t add noticeable additional traffic on the Great Western Highway, the spokesperson said.
“Roads and Maritime Services estimate around 24,000 vehicles travel on the Blue Mountains section of the Great Western Highway per day; around 2,880 are heavy vehicles. Early estimates suggest this project could add an additional 12 trucks.”
A decision is expected in 12 months with the first energy expected to be produced in 2019 if it goes ahead.