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November, 2013:

WMW: Thai fuel cell deal for plasma gasification waste to energy firm

Waste management companies using plasma gasification technology are expanding their business and technological portfolio with the growing deployment of the technology around the world – that is, except for Hong Kong. From Ben Messenger, editor of Waste Management World:

London based Waste2Tricity, which plan to implement use plasma gasification waste to energy technology in facilities which utilise fuel cells, has acquired the exclusive rights for AFC Energy (AIM: AFC) hydrogen fuel cells for deployment in Thailand’s waste to energy sector.

Artist's impression of a fuel cell bank. (WMW)

The company said that it already owns the deployment rights for the UK and has secured the right of first refusal for additional territories including Europe and North America.

Waste2Tricity International (Thailand) (W2T has entered into the licence agreement with AFC Energy, making the company the exclusive Thai agent for AFC’s fuel cells for waste gasification applications.

According to the company, deployment of the commercial fuel cell will enable it to establish the technology in the Thai market.

Married to Alter NRG’s Westinghouse plasma gasification technology as the front end conversion, Waste2Tricity claimed that AFC Energy fuel cells create a commercial model that will substantially outperform any other proposal.

Paying for feedstock

The company further claimed that the model will allow it offer payment for waste feedstock, instead of requiring suppliers to pay a gate fee.

This, said that Waste2Tricity, will create a paradigm shift in the Thai waste to energy market, enabling it to establish market dominance with projects similar to the waste to the energy plant currently being built by Air Products in Tees Valley, UK.

“This is the beginning of our thrust into the burgeoning waste-to-energy market in Thailand,” explained Piangkwan Thummukgool, director of Waste2Tricity and project director of the Thailand programme.

“We will be accelerating our programme with the leading technologies for waste conversion and looking to create a hydrogen opportunity for the AFC Energy fuel cells,” he added.

Waste2tricity is projecting the potential deployment of over 230 MW’s of fuel cells in the three projects currently in negotiation, with more in the pipeline.

The deal with AFC was said to be worth some £1.2 million.

4 Nov 2013

Mingpao: Electric vehicles in HK numbers 552; 147 owned by Government

Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing says that as of October 2013, there are 552 electric vehicles on the roads of Hong Kong, more than twice the number in 2011. 147 of the vehicles are part of the vehicle fleet of the SAR government, who has slated for an addition of another 74 vehicles by early 2014.

Mr. Wong was responding in writing to queries from Legco member Chan Hak-kan Gary. The government, in an effort to promote the development of the electric vehicle market, introduced electric vehicles into its fleet across various departments, but electric vehicles have yet to become popular in Hong Kong.

Mr. Wong also said that feedback from government departments regarding electric vehicles have been positive. There is, however, a lack of available models on the market for special purposes vehicles such as waste collection vehicles, street cleaning vehicles, ambulances etc., which limits the number of electric vehicles in the fleet of government vehicles.

Electric vehicle, part of the HK government's fleet of vehicles; pictured with a charging station. (EPD)


Plymouth residents fight against new incinerator operations

The city council of Plymouth faced strong backlash from residents for approving the building of a new incinerator while ‘operating in camera’. Initially threatening the incinerator opposition with a huge punitive compensation for the MNC behind the project, MVV, if the incinerator could not go ahead, local residents managed to block the incinerator from starting operations by exposing MVV for not having an approved ash deposit site before they started construction work on the incinerator. At the moment, MVV has been formally denied any plans to deposit incinerator ash in the neighbouring towns of Devon county, but MVV officials insist that the incinerator will be operation as scheduled, in 2014.

The new Plymouth incinerator, Jul 2013 (Plymouth Herald)

Read the coverage from the Plymouth Herald here:

China to reduce coal usage for power generation to battle smog and related health issues; could spell end for viable coal production

On the back of the smog that hit Northeastern China last month, the SCMP ran an editorial on serious health concerns seeping throughout China:

The prevalence of smoking in China tends to fudge the contribution of air pollution to the growing incidence of respiratory disease. A couple of examples that emerged this month are timely reminders of the cost of China’s rapid development. In one, an eight-year-old girl has become the nation’s youngest lung-cancer patient, with doctors linking her illness to environmental factors. Dr Feng Dongjie of the Jiangsu cancer hospital says the girl lived on a busy road where she inhaled dust, including superfine particles considered to be the most lethal component of smog.

The other example recalled the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, except in this instance it was the lack of a picture. The smog that hung over many Chinese cities, including Beijing, last month was so bad in the northeastern city of Harbin , where visibility fell to below three metres, that even public security surveillance cameras could not penetrate thick layers of particles. The immediate concern for the authorities is safeguarding national security though a street surveillance network. They should also be deeply worried about the effects of smog on the public’s health as they are insidious and, if and when the air clears, will linger much longer.

The 'lack of a picture' tells a thousand words: buildings are seen through thick haze in downtown Shanghai. (SCMP/Reuters)


SCMP: Plover Cove country park expansion could lead to showdown

from Cheung Chi-fai of the SCMP:

Officials have quietly drafted proposals to expand at least one country park that would limit the building rights of villagers.

The proposal for incorporating five enclaves into the Plover Cove Country Park in the northeastern New Territories would add 60 hectares to the 4,600- hectare park.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department plan comes just a few weeks after development minister Paul Chan Mo-po provoked a heated debate by suggesting houses might be built in the parks. The new proposal is likely to prove just as controversial.

AFCD officials say the five areas, either surrounded by or jutting into the park, are suitable for incorporation in full or in part. This would presuppose that development in the parks was not favoured. Any construction, including small houses for indigenous inhabitants, would require approval from the Country and Marine Parks Board.


Standard: Return stays at 9.9pc for power firms

from Kelly Ip for the Standard:

Power suppliers CLP and Hongkong Electric will continue to enjoy the 9.99 percent permitted return on capital investment.

The decision – following a just- completed mid-term review of the Scheme of Control Agreements between the government and power companies – was expected, said an Energy Advisory Committee member.

During the review, the two firms agreed to set up an energy efficiency fund from shareholders’ earnings to provide subsidies on a matching basis to owners of non- commercial buildings so they can make their structures more energy efficient.

The scheme is expected to be launched in the first half of next year.

According to previous records, the two companies are expected to invest HK$100 million into the fund, with HK$70 million coming from CLP and spread over four years.

CLP and Hongkong Electric also agreed to raise performance thresholds for both incentive payments and penalties with regard to supply reliability, operational efficiency and customer services.

They also reached a consensus on lowering the cap on the Tariff Stabilisation Fund balance, from 8 percent to 5 percent of annual total revenues from sales of electricity to local consumers, to ensure the balance of the fund can be used to alleviate the impact of tariff increases on customers.

To promote transparency, both firms will set up dedicated websites to show information relating to financial and operating data. The current Scheme of Control Agreements run for a term of 10 years and will expire in 2018.

Energy Advisory Committee member William Yu Yuen-ping said the energy efficiency fund is a breakthrough to help buildings save power.

“Since the fund is from shareholders’ earnings, it will not be included in operational costs and should not affect tariffs,” he said.

An Environment Bureau spokesman said electricity consumers can expect some benefits from the modifications.

Conservation group World Green Organization predicted CLP will increase electricity charges by 4 to 5 percent and Hongkong Electric by up to 1 percent.

22 Nov 2013

SCMP: Guangzhou announces emergency measures to tackle heavy pollution

from Mimi Lau in Guangzhou, reporting for the SCMP:

Guangzhou’s government has rolled out emergency measures for days when air pollution is high.

They include taking nearly a third of government and half of private vehicles off the road and forcing factories to reduce emissions of pollutants.

Yang Liu, director of the Guangzhou Environmental Protection Bureau, said yesterday that air pollution would now be formally categorised as an emergency. A 15-department task force would co-ordinate action centrally on days when the city was hit by intense smog.

The announcement came two weeks after Beijing set out emergency measures to be taken when levels of PM2.5, the tiny airborne particles considered most harmful to health, are forecast to exceed 300 micrograms per cubic metre for three consecutive days.

Air pollution is now a top public concern in several mainland cities, many of them in the north, where energy generation relies heavily upon coal-burning plants.

In Guangzhou, the contingency measures will be activated under an orange alert. That will come into force when the air quality index is forecast to reach between 201 and 300 for 48 hours at five of 10 monitoring stations. Authorities will then take 20 per cent of the city’s 13,000 government vehicles off the road.

Under a red alert, triggered when the index exceeds 300, 30 per cent of government vehicles will be kept off the roads. Private vehicles will be usable only on alternate days based on whether their licence plate ends with an even or an odd number.

Pollutants constantly plague the air in Guangzhou. (ChinaLuxus)


CleanTechnica: Waste-To-Energy Plant To Be Constructed In Nottinghamshire

from Nicholas Brown of CleanTechnica:

At the site of the old Bilsthorpe Colliery, a new(ish) idea will be put to use. That is a synthesis gas generator. This plant will collect waste from Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, and surrounding areas to convert it into synthesis gas (also called syngas) via plasma gasification. This gas will then undergo a purification process before using it to generate electricity for exportation into the internal electricity grid. This is an alternative to the more traditional waste-to-energy approach of rubbish incineration (setting fire to piles of rubbish).

This is one of multiple forms of waste-to-energy power plant technologies which have been on the rise.

This facility will process up to 97,000 tonnes of feedstock annually (feedstock is raw material to be fed into an industrial process), and it can generate 16.6 MW of energy. It can both directly accept feedstock or prepare it itself using the materials recycling facility.

Artists impression of the Bilsthorpe plant. (Waste2Tricity/CleanTechnica)


letsrecycle: Air Products EfW facility nears completion

from Tom Goulding of letsrecycle:

Work on a 350,000 tonne capacity gasification plant in Tees Valley is nearing completion, with commercial operations due to begin by mid-2014.

Industrial gas and equipment supplier Air Products will treat municipal, commercial and industrial waste at its energy-from-waste facility near Billingham, diverting it from privately-owned Impetus’ nearby landfill site.

Air Products has not revealed whether contracts to supply waste to feed the plant have been secured, but told all waste would derive from the local area.

The plant gained planning permission from Stockton-on-Tees borough council in August 2011, while environmental permits needed to operate the site have also been granted by the Environment Agency (see story).

Costing an estimated $500 million (£320 million), the facility has been funded almost entirely by the US-based company, with a £260,000 government grant also awarded by One North East in 2010.

The 350,000 tonne capacity Air Products gasification plant will cost an estimated £320 million. (letsrecycle)


Book excerpt: Incineration: The Biggest Obstacle to Zero Waste

by Paul Connett, posted on Earth Island Journal:

It is hard to understand why any rational official living in the twenty-first century and facing the critical need to develop sustainable solutions would countenance the squandering of finite material and huge financial resources on a nonsustainable practice like incineration. One European report has estimated that a combination of recycling and composting lowers greenhouse gas production forty-six times more than an incinerator producing electricity.

Incineration might make sense if we had another planet to go to, but without that sci-fi escape it must be resisted in favor of more down-to-earth solutions that we can live with – both within our local communities and on the planet as a whole. Both incineration and landfilling attempt to bury the evidence of an unacceptable throwaway lifestyle. Every incinerator built delays this fundamental realization by at least twenty-five years – about the time it takes to pay back the huge capital costs involved in building the facility, and during that time it has to be fed, leaving little room to allow for more sustainable solutions to coexist.

Ten Arguments Against Incineration
Argument 1: Incinerators Are Very Expensive

Incinerators remain formidably expensive, but that expense is often hidden from public view with giant public subsidies. To pay for the capital and operating costs, as well as the operators’ profit margins, the community or region will have to sign put-or-pay agreements, which trap them for twenty-five years or more. As the industry has struggled to make incineration safe, it has priced itself out of the market – or it would have if the market was applied on a level playing field.

Over half the capital cost of an incinerator built today goes into air pollution control equipment. Ironically, if the waste were not burned in the first place this hugely expensive equipment would not be necessary, nor would the toxic ash collected in these devices have to be sent to an expensive hazardous waste landfill, nor would the air emissions be subjected to very costly monitoring. But the public is being kept ill informed about the poor economics of incineration. Instead, they are being told that incineration is going to save their communities money.