Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay

Energy from Waste Project at Condong

Cape Byron Power operates the Condong Cogeneration Plant. This exists alongside the sugar mill, which has been part of the community for over 140 years. The Condong Plant contributes to the local economy, supporting the sugar cane industry and directly employs 25 people. The power to operate the sugar mill is generated primarily from bagasse, a waste product from sugar cane. It also provides power that is sold to the grid. This waste product is only available during the sugar cane crush season being from June to December. The use of this waste avoids it being transported elsewhere and potentially going to landfill. Other products are used to fuel the generation of power in the non-crush season (generally January through to mid June).

What is proposed?

The existing regulated consent for the operation of the plant has been in place since 2000. A new consent application is triggered by changes to the product proposed to be used by the power station during the non-crush season. The current consent allows the use of various wood‐based fuel sources during the non-crush season. These will be replaced by recovered timber fuel.

The Plant will only operate using the proposed recovered timber fuel during the non-crush season. During the sugar cane crush season, the Plant will continue to operate on the currently approved biomass fuels, comprising mainly bagasse and cane leaves from the adjoining sugar mill.

Proposed changes to the existing facility

The proposal involves the following changes:

  • An additional timber fuel source of recovered timber fuel. Under the Environment Protection Authority’s NSW Energy from Water Policy Statement (EPA, 2015) the proposed fuel requires NSW Government approval.
  • Potential reduction in the total volume of fuel
  • Upgrade to the air pollution control system
  • A review and upgrade of the fuel storage and handling including ensuring suitable management of the surface water and leachate.
  • Approval stages and how you can get involved

    Project stage Timing How you can get involved How your feedback will inform the project
    Scoping report submitted April 2021
  • Call 1800 228 554 for information
  • Look out for communication that we will distribute
  • Refer to this website for updates
  • Request a meeting with the team

  • Comments can contribute to the formation of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE’s) Secretary’s Environmental Assessment requirements (SEARs) to inform the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
    EIS preparation From April 2021 All of the above and we will also offer:
  • Information sessions
  • Advice on technical issues of concern
  • Meetings with stakeholder groups
  • Your feedback will contribute to the assessment of social and environmental impacts and planned mitigations.

    Your concerns will be documented in the EIS.
    EIS exhibition late 2021
    Submissions TBA You will have the opportunity to make comment on the EIS through making a submission to DPIE. Response to the submissions including consideration of comments and changes to the project as required
    Project Commencement TBA Liaison with the community will continue through operation Operation in accordance with the Conditions of Approval that are in part shaped by stakeholder feedback.

    Project benefits and impacts

    Cape Byron Power wants to continue to contribute to the local community. The Condong Plant and sugar mill is an important part of the local economy and assists to provide a future for the sugar industry in the region. The upgrade will also provide employment opportunities for local contractors and suppliers and secure long-term renewable energy generation for the region.

    Some of the positive changes include allowing Cape Byron Power to secure long term local jobs and facilitating long-term renewable electricity generation.

    There will be more positive community wide outcomes from the use of materials - which would otherwise be destined to go to landfill - to generate power. Each year, large volumes of dry commercial and industrial waste and construction and demolition waste will be diverted from landfill to produce renewable electricity. Use of waste for power reinforces the plant’s ability to continue to replace the need to rely on coal powered energy generation in the Northern Rivers.

    Emission control technology will also be upgraded as part of the changes and an EIS will accompany the application to the NSW State Government to make the proposed changes, and will outline the benefits and impacts on the following:

  • Waste management
  • Air quality and odour
  • Human health
  • Noise and vibration
  • Water – surface, groundwater, hydrology and water quality
  • Traffic and transport
  • Hazard and risk
  • Flora and fauna
  • Landscape character and visual amenity
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Airspace operations
  • Contamination, geology and soils
  • Services and utilities
  • Social
  • Heritage

  • Cape Byron Power is serious about the company’s responsibility to the environment and is committed to managing environmental impacts that might result from operations.

    FAQ's

    The existing consent for the operation of the Condong Cogeneration Plant has been in place since 2000. A new consent application is triggered by changes to the product proposed to be used by the power station during the non-crush season (typically January to mid-June). The current consent allows the use of various wood‐based fuel sources during the non-crush season. These will be replaced by recovered timber fuel.

    The Plant will only operate using the proposed recovered timber fuel during the non-crush season. During the sugar cane crush season, the Plant will continue to operate on the currently approved biomass fuels, comprising mainly bagasse and cane leaves from the adjoining sugar mill.

    The recovered timber proposed to be used will be non-putrescible (that is it does not include food waste) commercial and industrial waste and mixed construction and demolition waste processed into a timber fuel. These are waste streams that would normally go to landfill. The recovered timber fuel will comprise close to 90% timber (i.e. combustible material), with small amounts of non-timber elements such as plastics, textiles, glass, soil etc.

    Unlike the various wood‐based fuel sources currently received and combusted at the Plant during the non‐crush season, the recovered timber fuel will be produced to a specification that will be more consistent and thus will improve combustion efficiency. This will mean that Cape Byron Power has better combustion and emissions management during the non-crush season.

    The recovered timber would be sourced from a purpose‐built resource recovery facility run by ResourceCo in Brisbane (Hemmant) and potentially a smaller quantity from an existing ResourceCo resource recovery facility in Sydney (Wetherill Park).

    To utilise recovered timber Cape Byron Power must meet rigorous operational and environmental requirements. The upgrades required at the Plant to receive, temporarily store, and combust the recovered timber will be designed to comply with the requirements of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and the NSW government EPA’s Energy from Waste Policy Statement 2015 to ensure there are no significant environmental risks. The Energy from Waste Policy Statement requires “international best practice”.

    To achieve this Cape Byron Power will improve the existing facility to include a sophisticated flue gas treatment process to clean the flue gas prior to discharge into the environment. The upgrades will include the installation of a continuous emissions monitoring system.

    During the combustion of the proposed recovered timber fuel, the by-products of bottom ash, fly ash and flue gas treatment residues will be produced. Plant upgrades give Cape Byron Power the capacity to separate the different ash streams so that each stream can be disposed of in an appropriate manner in line with the requirements of the EPA and relevant NSW legislation.

    The Condong Cogeneration Plant is integral to the local sugar cane industry and a significant provider of renewable electricity to the local grid. It also plays an important role in meeting NSW targets for landfill diversion and resource recovery.

    The Condong Plant currently combusts various wood-based fuel materials during the non-crush season including residues from weed eradication programs, timber mill and forestry operations and approved land clearing which might be for road-sides, powerlines, land subdivision and housing developments. Consistent and reliable supply of this material is becoming more difficult and the composition varies which has implications for the combustion process and emissions management.

    The proposed recovered timber will be sourced from waste otherwise heading to landfill. Under the waste hierarchy use of recovered timber to generate electricity is preferable to it going to landfill. Energy recovery is the preferred option where avoiding, reusing, or recycling waste materials are not feasible.

    The recovered timber fuel that is proposed to be combusted during the non-crush season supports the waste hierarchy via:

    • Recovering valuable energy resources from material otherwise disposed to landfill;
    • Reducing demand for scarce landfill space;
    • Reducing the environmental impacts associated with landfill; and
    • Generating a source of renewable energy and reducing reliance on non-renewable sources such as coal-fired power stations.

    ResourceCo is a privately owned Australian company regarded as a global leader in the recovery and re-manufacturing of primary resources, extracting maximum value from materials otherwise destined for landfill. The company has a strong track record of working with governments, communities and public and private companies to progress the circular economy and preserve natural resources for a sustainable future.

    The facility proposed by ResourceCo in Brisbane will process dry commercial and industrial and mixed construction and demolition waste streams using a combination of mechanical pre-sorting, shredding, screening and magnetic and air separating to recovery around 90% of the waste. The facility will produce recovered timber fuel for the Condong Cogeneration Plant, along with other reusable commodities that will be used elsewhere including aggregates, metal and soil.

    The recovered timber fuel will be sampled and tested to ensure on-going compliance with the specification of the development consent and environmental licensing requirements.

    The recovered timber fuel will be delivered by road in semi-trailers and B-doubles from ResourceCo. Traffic volumes will remain similar to what they are for the existing facility, with the potential for a slight reduction. The timing of traffic movements and routes to the facility may change but the Pacific Motorway and Old Pacific Highway will be used, where possible, in preference over local roads.

    Some heavy vehicle movements will also be associated with the collection and transport of waste ash products for disposal.

    This use of recovered timber will have benefits to the immediate and wider community including:

    • Enabling Cape Byron Power to continue to support the sugar cane industry
    • Maintaining continuity of renewable electricity generation for supply to the local grid, reducing reliance on non-renewable sources including coal-fired power.
    • Securing the existing local jobs in to the future
    • Diversion of waste from landfill and reducing the environmental impacts of that waste going to landfill.

    Cape Byron Management recognises its responsibilities in environmental stewardship and is proud to contribute to the community reaching its ‘Zero Waste Strategy’ goal.

    The Condong Cogeneration Plant has been generating power in this way for about 20 years. Cape Byron Power supports and works within the waste hierarchy. It will continue to play an important role in meeting NSW targets for landfill diversion and resource recovery.

    The recovered timber will be sourced from residual waste which is otherwise heading to landfill. Using recovered timber to generate renewable electricity is preferable to it going to landfill under the waste hierarchy. Where avoiding, reusing, or recycling waste materials are not feasible, the next preferred option in the hierarchy is energy recovery.

    Invitation to comment

    Please contact us if you have any questions or comments about the project:
    projectinfo@cbpower.com.au
    1800 228 554

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