Media and News

Victorian waste-to-energy plant gets thumbs up  

A waste-to-energy (WtE) facility in Dandenong, Victoria, has been given the go-ahead after Great Southern Waste Technologies (GSWT), assisted by SMEC, gained environmental approval for its proposal.

Once complete, the plant will receive more than 100,000 tonnes of waste per year, eliminate over 100,000T of greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise be generated in landfill and generate approximately 7.9 MW of baseload electricity to be fed into the grid.

The facility will implement gasification technology that has been developed and successfully implemented in Europe, accruing over 800,000 hours of continual operation and meeting strict European Union emission limits.

“Utilising this valuable resource through energy recovery offers a sustainable improvement to waste management services, whilst also reducing the overall greenhouse gas emissions and the potential environmental impacts associated with landfilling,” GSWT’s Craig Gilbert said.

Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) approval is the culmination of two years’ work involving a wide range of studies to assess potential environmental and human health impacts and support approval of the facility.

SMEC’s team delivered the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) and conducted studies including noise, air emissions, environmental risk, human health risk assessments and greenhouse gas lifecycle assessments, plus many more to ensure a considered, evidence-based proposal could be put to the EPA.

This is a significant outcome as only five of these plants have been approved in Australia. This approval reflects the dedication and capability of our team and SMEC’s commitment to working collaboratively with our clients to develop renewable energy solutions.

“I have visited the European WtE plants and seen this technology in action. They have the potential to reduce the waste sent to landfill by up to 80% or around 95% where, as is proposed for the facility, ash products are diverted from landfill for beneficial re-use by the construction industry,” SMEC National Manager for Waste Lukas McVey said.

“This plant is another step towards Australia’s renewable energy future and implementation of a circular economy.”

Source:  Sustainability Matters

Grid project set to secure Alice Springs’ energy future

A two-year, $9.3 million project is set to secure the renewable energy future of Alice Springs. The Alice Springs Future Grid Project will focus on addressing barriers to further renewable energy penetration in the local electricity network.

Currently, Alice Springs has approximately 10% renewable energy generation and faces a unique challenge in overcoming system strength issues to serve approximately 30,000 people, with communities stretching as far as 130 km from the town.

With $2.17 million support from the Australian Government via the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the project will address technical, regulatory, social and economic challenges with energy transition in the town’s isolated grid through a series of subprojects including:

  • a large-scale battery system;
  • a residential battery trial for up to 50 customers, with batteries aggregated and controlled to provide voltage support to the network;
  • tariff reforms to investigate the commercial and other incentives required to encourage a change in consumer behaviour to facilitate higher uptake of household batteries with rooftop solar;
  • a roadmap for how the Alice Springs electricity grid could operate with 50% renewables by 2030.

The project will be led by the Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy, a flagship project of Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA), supported by the Northern Territory Government. ARENA’s funding is provided through the Desert Knowledge Research Institute and will complement the $3.19 million in funding DKA received as part of the Australian Government’s $50 million Regional and Remote Communities Microgrid Fund.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project would provide much-needed support to help the town overcome challenges and transition towards renewable energy solutions.

“This project will lead to the development of a tangible roadmap for increased renewable energy adoption in Alice Springs. The lessons learned will also contribute to the broader Northern Territory and other remote Australian microgrid communities,” he said.

Tristan Simons, General Manager of the Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy, said, “Alice Springs Future Grid takes a unique approach to a multifaceted challenge, in a rapidly changing environment.

“Alice Springs is ‘small enough to manage but big enough to matter’, and we are confident the project will not only help secure a clean and reliable energy future for the town, but the knowledge generated will have a positive flow-on effect, well beyond the other isolated electricity networks in the Northern Territory.”

Alice Springs Future Grid is governed by a steering committee including CSIRO, Ekistica, Power and Water Corporation and Territory Generation, along with representatives from ARENA and the Northern Territory Government.

Source: Sustainability Matters


Bill for bird safe buildings passed in US

Bird-safe building materials with restricted use of glass  could become a legal requirement for public buildings in the US if a new bill is passed.   A study by the Cornell Lad of Ornithology found that around 600 million birds – mostly migratory birds, die from building collisions each year throughout the US.  Birds are attracted to the reflective facades of buildings.

The Bird-Safe Building Act of 2019 was passed by the US House of Representatives on July 1 and must now go before the Senate.  Under the proposed legislation, in the case of new public buildings or public buildings which are substantially altered:

  • Glass materials will not be allowed to comprise any more than 10 percent of the exposed façade material from ground level to 40 feet or any more than 40 percent of the exposed façade material above 40 feet unless the material employs some or all of a combination of methods described in the bill.
  • Methods referred to above include elements that preclude bird collisions without obscuring vision (secondary facades, netting, screens, shutters, and exterior shades); Ultraviolet (UV) patterned glass that contains UV-reflective or contrasting patterns that are visible to birds; patterns on glass designed in accordance with a rule that restricts horizontal spaces to less than 2 inches high and vertical spaces to less than 4 inches wide; or opaque, etched, stained, frosted, or translucent glass.
  • Transparent passageways or corners will not be allowed.
  • Any glass which is adjacent to atria or courtyards containing water features, plants, and other materials attractive to birds will need to have one or more features referred to in the second point above.
  • Subject to security and other mission related requirements, outside lighting must be appropriately shielded and minimised.

For existing public buildings, the new Bill will require the Administrator to ensure that bird mortality rates are monitored and to reduce exterior building and site lighting for each public building (subject to security and other requirements).

In doing this, it says the Administrator should use automatic control technologies including timers, photo-sensors and infrared and motion detectors.

The Bill applies to all public buildings except for heritage buildings, the White House, the Supreme Court and the United States Capitol.

The requirements do not apply, however, where the measures outlined above would result in significant additional cost to the construction or renovation.

New York has mandated requirements for safe glass structures within its building code whilst other cities such as Toronto have introduced guidelines to make buildings more friendly to birds.

The Bill must now go before the Senate and will need to be signed by the President before it is passed into law.

Source:  Sourceable

New hybrid timber HQ for Atlassian

Australian tech giant Atlassian will house its new Sydney headquarters in a 40-storey hybrid timber structure to be built using mass timber construction. It will be located adjacent to Sydney’s Central Station and will be part of the NSW government’s planned technology precinct for the area.  New York-based Shop Architects and Australian practice BVN were selected to design the building.

The building will target a 50 percent reduction in embodied carbon and energy compared to conventional construction. Atlassian has also committed to operating on 100 percent renewable energy with zero emissions, by using energy efficient design, such as natural ventilation and planted terraces throughout the building, as well as generating green power on site through solar panels integrated into the building’s facades, which will be a glass and steel exoskeleton tied to the structure.

Source: Architecture AU

Coral Greenhouse creates habitat for marine life

An underwater greenhouse on the seabed 50 miles off Townsville, Queensland is creating a new habitat for marine life.  The greenhouse was created by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor as part of the Museum of Underwater Art and sits in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park on the John Brewer Reef.

DeCaires Taylor created sculptures of workbenches filled with gardening tools inside the sunken pavilion, which are each designed to be a refuge for different species of wildlife.  Small fish can escape predators by hiding in the gaps of gridded elements, and there are niches for octopuses and sea urchins to hide in.  The beams of the Coral Greenhouse are designed to be a convenient place for fish to feed or congregate about in shoals.

Photo: Richard Woodgett

Source:  Dezeen

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