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August 15th, 2014:

SCMP: Follow best practice on waste incineration, and think local

Friday, 15 August, 2014


As project designer of a conservation group on Lantau, I wish to respond to the letter by Elvis W. K. Au, assistant director of environmental protection, regarding the Shek Kwu Chau incinerator (“Incinerator will adopt proven, cost-effective technology on island [1]”, August 5).

I visited the plasma arc gasification plant in Teesside, in northeast England, on June 18, joining its annual open day. Many delegates and big name companies from around the world attended. I was the plant’s first “Hong Kong delegate”.

The day included presentations and a visit to the plant, which was impressive. It is the largest plant in the world and will come into commission by next year.

The most striking part of the visit was the large number of delegates from China, gathering information on plasma. Two out of the three presentations given were by Chinese companies, which have set up plasma gasification plants; it felt as if China was teaching the rest of the world.

I also talked with the British team that met seven Hong Kong government representatives when they visited Britain. They had met in a hotel room in London for an hour: the Hong Kong representatives had said they did not have enough time to visit the Teesside plant. They then visited a small-scale plasma gasification site, in Avonmouth, in southern England, Afval, a company generating electricity from waste in the Netherlands, and then went on to Denmark.

The reaction of the British officials had been the same as mine: surely, if you go on a fact-finding mission, you should go to the best example of whatever that subject is.

Someone senior in the government told me we needed the proposed super incinerator, because, firstly, Hong Kong people were never going to be able to reduce, reuse and recycle their waste in time; and, secondly, plasma would not work.

After my visit to the Teesside plant, my response is to ask: why will plasma arc facilities not work? If the rest of the world is doing it, and it needs to be done, then Hong Kong can do it.

Let’s catch up. Hong Kong always wants everything super-sized, but is that the way of the future?

The workable future is smaller scale and localised. A plasma plant can be constructed quickly, and does not pollute or need landfills, as there is no residue ash waste.

We can set up cluster recycling centres for composting, recycling, plasma arc facilities and education centres where they are needed all over Hong Kong.

The government has already signed contracts so it is reluctant to change tack. But what is really best for Hong Kong?

Jenny Quinton, Ark Eden Foundation, Lantau

More on this:

Incinerator will adopt proven, cost-effective technology on island [1]

Source URL (retrieved on Aug 15th 2014, 5:55am):


Lai See: Garbage in, garbage out

Saturday, 07 January, 2012

Howard Winn

A letter in today’s paper pooh poohs plasma arc technology as a means of disposing of municipal solid waste saying: ‘To demand that the Environmental Protection Department should consider this technology, which is unproven at any commercial scale, for Hong Kong, is about as ludicrous as suggesting to shoot all of our garbage by space rocket into the sun!’ Strong words from Alexander Luedi, who is the general manager of Explosion Power Hong Kong.

A little context of interest here, which Luedi doesn’t mention in his letter, is that his company, according to its website, specialises in cleaning furnaces, boilers, ash hoppers, silos and other vessels. ‘We provide online boiler cleaning equipment and services to thermal power plants, waste-to-energy plants, … to improve thermal efficiencies, reduce downtime, and improve the safety of maintenance workers.’

So it’s not unreasonable to think Luedi’s eyes lit up at the prospect of business opportunities from a monster incinerator that processes some 3,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste a day which, in turn, generates 1,200 tonnes of fly ash.

In his letter, Luedi says plasma arc technology, ‘is neither needed, nor feasible for the disposal of 3,000 tonnes per day of municipal waste.’

His views don’t appear to be shared by authorities in Japan, the UK, Mexico, India and China, which are all using plasma arc technology to process municipal solid waste and to convert it into energy instead of the conventional moving grate technology proposed for Hong Kong. The new technology produces little in the way of emissions of toxic dioxins and less mess for the likes of Luedi and his company to clean up.

(letter in question)

Incinerators’ good global track record

South China Morning Post

SCMP Letter   Jan 07 2012

Incinerators’ good global track record

Plasma arc is a suitable and proven method for the disposal of small quantities of hazardous waste. However, for household refuse it would use large quantities of energy, and it is definitely neither needed, nor feasible, for the disposal of 3,000 tonnes per day of municipal household waste.

The “old-fashioned” moving grate technology is fully capable of addressing Lai See’s “noxious chemical cocktail” (“Making a hash of dash to ash”, January 4) and hundreds of plants operate worldwide in highly sensitive areas.

To demand that the Environmental Protection Department considers this technology, which is unproven at any commercial scale, for Hong Kong is about as ludicrous as suggesting shooting all our garbage by space rocket into the sun. What is needed is a plant that meets the highest standards in operational efficiencies. That is where the department could learn from my firm.

Alexander Luedi, general manager, Explosion Power Hong Kong Limited