Regional waste-to-energy project progresses

October 20, 2021 BY

Barwon Water chair Jo Plummer, Borough of Queenscliffe mayor Ross Ebbels, City of Greater Geelong councillor Belinda Moloney, Surf Coast Shire deputy mayor Liz Pattison and Colac Otway Shire councillor Chris Potter are pictured at Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant.

AN INNOVATIVE initiative to turn the Geelong region’s food, garden and commercial organic waste into electricity and nutrients for farms while also creating jobs has taken a significant step forward.

Barwon Water has signed an agreement with six local councils to explore opportunities for a Regional Renewable Organics Network (RON) at its Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant in Connewarre, with funding support from the state for a business case.

The proposal to reduce carbon emissions by reducing food waste to landfill and create renewable energy will involve the City of Greater Geelong, the Borough of Queenscliffe, Colac Otway Shire, Golden Plains Shire, Surf Coast Shire and Wyndham City Council.

Barwon Water managing director Tracey Slatter said the project would convert 40,000 tonnes of organic waste each year into 8000 tonnes of high-value, nutrient-rich soil enhancers to support local agriculture.

“In the process it will generate enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of 500 homes and reduce the region’s carbon emissions by between 10,000 to 15,000 tonnes, the equivalent of taking more than 4000 cars off the road,” Ms Slatter said.

“It also provides a local, long-term and lower financial and environmental cost waste solution for councils and their ratepayers, and reduces Barwon Water’s energy costs by helping to power the Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant, keeping customer bills affordable.”

Ms Slatter said Black Rock was already home to a three-megawatt solar farm that supplied up to 35 per cent of the plant’s electricity use and the Regional RON would provide an additional 14 per cent.

She said the Regional RON would also create 75 construction jobs and 36 ongoing jobs.

Barwon Water already has an operational RON in Colac which converts the gas produced by the organic trade waste from the Australian Lamb Company and Bulla Dairy Foods into renewable electricity and soil enhancers.

Minister for Water Lisa Neville said the Regional Renewable Organics Network would help the water sector lead the way in tackling climate change.

“Projects like this play an important role in Victoria’s target of zero emissions by 2030 as well as lowering Barwon Water’s productions costs, which will help keep water bills down for their customers.”

Construction at Black Rock is expected to start in early-2023, with the processing facility operational by mid-2024.

Barwon Water will host a series of community webinars and information sessions about the RON in October and November, with online registration at yoursay.barwonwater.vic.gov.au/RRON.

 

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