AustWorks Corporation (AWC), the firm behind the city government’s plan to put up a waste-to-energy facility, has vowed to comply with all the legal requirements needed by the project and denied claims by environmental groups opposing it.
In an email sent to Palawan News over the weekend, AWC director Greg Burton said they are working with their technology partner AlterNRG and financial partners to comply with all operating contract requirements.
“Detailed engineering design will be conducted by AlterNRG and will be built on all of the existing preliminary design work done to date, over the last three years. Preliminary financial models are already complete and will be refined once the design is fully complete,” he said.
Burton, however, said the distribution impact study and power supply agreement are still under discussions with the Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco), which has a franchise to distribute power in Palawan mainland.
“Distribution impact study and power supply agreement are confidential discussions we are presently having with Paleco, and once an outcome is reached we will be happy to share that,” he said.
The project aims to utilize the city’s solid daily garbage collection for a power generation facility that will produce an estimated 5 megawatts of electricity, using what the company described as “plasma gasification”. It claims the process is unlike traditional waste-to-energy incineration plants that produce toxic gases.
Addressing the criticisms raised by NGOs against the project, Burton said their “most sophisticated” and “capital-intensive” plasma gasification technology is different from the traditional banned ones that have adverse environmental impacts.
“We are using a plasma gasification technology for waste conversion as combustion or incineration is banned in the Philippines, and plasma gasification is a far more environmentally friendly process,” he said.
AWC said the Department of Science and Technology technical working group has reviewed this technology, which “has virtually no harmful emissions” and “doesn’t produce leachable bottom ash or fly ash” that puts human health at risk.
“It has passed their review as a non-burn technology,” Burton said.
Addressing claims that gasification emits cancer-causing gaseous, liquid and solid releases, AWC claimed the process has “negative carbon footprint” and is “virtually zero emissions.”
“It has the highest landfill diversion rate of any available technology, making it very attractive to local authorities,” the AWC statement said.
“Emissions from these facilities are continuously monitored, as stipulated in the European Union regulations & applicable environmental permits. The emissions from a plasma gasification plant are lower than a comparable coal-fired power station, diesel generation power plant or any other similar power plant,” it added.
AWC also denied a claim made by the NGO coalition No Burn Pilipinas (NBP) that the technology has a negative track-record worldwide plagued by malfunctions, explosions, and shut-downs.
“The current technology is far more advanced than the early 1st generation systems from the 1960’s and 1970’s. There are numerous fully operational plants all around the world. All industrial-scale processing facilities require scheduled shutdown periods for maintenance & these plasma gasification plants are no different,” it said.
Prior to securing their Environment Compliance Certificate, Burton said the same was reviewed and cleared by the Department of Environment and Natural Resource (DENR).
“I would say a reasonably comprehensive evaluation of our financial ability, legal conformity and technical capabilities of our ability and our technologies conformance with Filipino law has been pursued over the last three years of getting to the point of nearing the start of construction,” Burton said.