Mount Alexander Sustainability Group has secured DON Smallgoods in Castlemaine as the development site of a proposed multi-million dollar bioenergy facility.
The planned project represents the first community led integrated waste-to-clean-energy initiative of its kind in Victoria.
Confirming support, DON Smallgoods signed a term sheet covering energy off-take, waste supply and land to the north of the existing factory.
MASG Bioenergy Subcommittee chair Mick Lewin said the project embraced circular economy and zero waste – a dictum the sustainability group strives for.
“We hope it will be a great example for other communities,” he said.
Bioenergy waste plants divert organic waste from landfill, capturing potentially harmful emissions to generate zero waste and clean energy, while reducing reliance on traditional fossil fuels.
The proposed facility will feature two technologies: a Biodigester to break down wet organic waste, producing methane, heat and a digestate co-product; and a Biomass thermal heat plant for dry woody waste to supply steam to the Don KRC plant and result in co-products such as biochar for agricultural use.
DON Smallgoods will purchase energy generated from the plant and provide 20 per cent of the waste to process. In total, the facility is expected to drive an emissions reduction of 88,500 tonne of CO2 e per annum, and divert over 30,000 tonnes of organic waste from landfill annually (over 20 per cent of which is from DON Smallgoods).
DON Smallgoods managing director Will Ursell said the company was excited to be part of the smart initiative.
“The plant will significantly reduce landfill waste from our Castlemaine facility, leading to a 20 per cent emissions reduction alone,” he said.
Mr Ursell said the new plant would also divert a huge amount of waste away from DON Smallgoods’ existing onsite wastewater treatment plant.
To date, the planned facility has received backing from state and federal governments, Mount Alexander Shire Council, Coliban Water, DON Smallgoods and the McKinnon Family Foundation. In total, required funding is about $20-25 million.
MASG renewable energy consultant and project director Deane Belfield said the facility would also benefit the agricultural community, as it would be equipped to create a carbon neutral soil product from waste streams, replacing emission intensive synthetic fertilisers.
MASG would receive a dividend from ongoing operation, therefore enabling other sustainability projects in the community.
MASG has developed a design for the plant and aims to submit project plans to the EPA, Biosecurity Australia and the council for approval later this year.
If it can secure the remaining necessary funding from investors it hopes to begin construction of the facility in early 2022 with a view to it being online and fully operational by early 2023.
Mount Alexander Shire Council CEO Darren Fuzzard said the council would explore the opportunity for part or all of the community’s organic waste to be processed at the proposed bioenergy facility.
Engagement with the community and stakeholders will be ongoing.
For details on the project visit: bioenergy.net.au