Waste to energy: fats, oils and grease to power homes

Thursday, 13 October, 2022

Waste to energy: fats, oils and grease to power homes

More than 80% of Australia’s food waste is currently disposed of in landfill where it decomposes to form methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Food scraps, wastewater, fats, oils and grease from homes and businesses could be diverted from landfill and converted to renewable energy at a new waste hub in western Sydney.

The Advanced Water Recycling Centre in the Western Parkland City will have the potential to convert waste into energy using a mix of existing and innovative technologies — potentially generating enough energy to power 120,000 homes.

Economic modelling commissioned by Sydney Water and Circular Australia and completed by the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures showed that co-digestion could divert up to 30,000 tonnes of organic waste from landfill each year by 2030.

The Managing Director of Sydney Water, Roch Cheroux, said the Upper South Creek Advanced Water Recycling Centre is the organisation’s largest investment in water resilience in a decade and will use water and resource recycling technology to harness renewable energy.

“Every $1 million spent turning food waste into energy generates $2.67 million worth of value,” Cheroux said. “We can generate enough renewable electricity through biogas power to reduce annual emissions by 70,000 tonnes, as well as promote skills and create jobs in the state’s largest growth area.”

The safe collection and disposal of fats, oils and grease will also prevent the formation of fatbergs in the sewage system and eliminate problems caused by these blockages. There is the potential to produce bio solids with a value of up to AU$2.8m annually at Upper South Creek.

The project is currently in procurement phase, with plans to award the construction contract for stage one in the coming months and completed in 2025 in time for the opening of the Western Sydney International Airport.

The centre is expected to be operational by 2026.

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