Waste to wattage
Imagine if you didn’t cringe every time your power bill arrived. And if the contents of your bin was the solution to cheap and affordable electricity! Is this science fiction? One far sighted resident of Ridgehaven wrote to the Tea Tree Gully and Campbelltown councils because he believed that converting rubbish into electricity was not only possible but cost effective. Mr. J. Sagen’s futuristic plan to burn general refuse in specially designed furnaces at Torrens Island power station, made front page news in the the Leader Messenger on 23 January, 1974.
Forty-three years later, on 1 March 2017 the Eastern Courier Messenger http://www.adelaidenow.com.au reported on the proposed construction of a $300 million plant in South Australia, where household rubbish would be converted to electricity. Recycling company Integrated Waste Service approached six of Adelaide’s councils, including Norwood, Payneham and St Peters, Unley and Burnside with a view to purchasing their rubbish. This new incentive could lead to an alternative, reliable energy option for our state.
Peter Dyson, the managing director of the Kwinana Waste to Energy plant, which will begin operating in Perth in 2020, stated that one wheelie bin of rubbish could produce up to 20 per cent of a household’s weekly power needs.
480 plants across Europe generate electricity by burning combustible, non-recyclable residential and industrial waste. The most common way of generating electricity from rubbish is by burning solid waste, which would normally go to landfill. Garbage is incinerated, transforming chemical energy into thermal energy at temperatures of up to 1093 Celsius. The heat then makes steam, which drives a turbine and produces electricity that feeds into the grid. Waste conversion facilities must meet strict guidelines, in order to filter emissions and capture pollutants such as dioxin, from being released into the air. Harmful methane gas is produced when waste decays which contributes to global warming. It can also be used as fuel.