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A chance to get rid of waste with virtually no emissions


Howard Winn
May 24, 2012

We hear of interesting developments on the incinerator front. Readers will recall that the Environmental Protection Department’s plan for a HK$15 billion incinerator on the scenically attractive island of Shek Kwu Chau, off the south coast of Lantau, is currently on hold pending consideration by C.Y. Leung’s incoming administration. Senior executives from the Solena Group have been in town this week visiting the department. The group specialises in plasma arc technology and using it to convert municipal solid waste into jet fuel. The company has in recent years signed a number of agreements with airlines and municipal authorities for converting municipal solid waste to biofuel projects. It has started construction of a facility in London in partnership with British Airways and has signed agreements and letters of intent with SAS, Alitalia, and will be discussing a similar project with an Australian airline.

This led to speculation that Solena has been speaking to Cathay Pacific (SEHK: 0293) this week with a view to setting up a waste-to-biofuels plant in Hong Kong. The EPD believes the technology is immature and has not been tried on the volumes of municipal solid waste (MSW) Hong Kong is looking to incinerate – 3,000 tonnes a day. The closest volume, to our knowledge, is a plant in the US which handles 2,400 tonnes a day of scrap metal, though this admittedly raises fewer technical problems than MSW. Solena says it can deal with 3,000 tonnes a day as its units are modular. The adoption of this technology would be cheaper and over time it is envisaged it could munch its way through Hong Kong’s current landfills. The advantage of this technology from an environmental perspective is that it produces virtually no emissions. This compares with the traditional incineration process the EPD wants to use, which is known to emit toxins and to produce high volumes of ash, much of which is highly toxic and will need to be carefully handled and disposed of in landfills. So we await with interest to learn if Solena has made any impact on the EPD or whether the department will persist with its pursuit of old and environmentally messy technology.

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