Botany Cogeneration Plant, New South Wales

SUEZ is proposing to build and operate a cogeneration plant to provide steam and electricity to power the Opal Paper and Recycling Mill, located in the existing Botany industrial area.

Working with Opal, SUEZ is continuing its proposal to develop a $250 million cogeneration plant at Opal’s Paper and Recycling Mill. The plant’s resource recovery process would reduce waste to landfill, minimise net CO₂ emissions, create local jobs and increase local economic development.

The plant would use advanced and proven safe technology, similar to what’s been used for decades in many European cities. It would meet the highest local and international standards for air quality.

By diverting waste from landfills, a cogeneration plant would offset 80,000 tonnes of CO₂ emissions per year, equivalent to removing 27,800 cars off the road (based on preliminary greenhouse gas emissions calculations).

See the outcomes

Less waste;
more energy

Engaging with SUEZ to construct and operate a cogeneration power plant would be a safe and an effective way for the Botany Mill to responsibly manage the waste generated from the recycling and paper-making process.

Fewer fossil fuels;
more energy recovery

In addition to steam generation needed to operate the Mill, the cogeneration plant would also generate 64,000MW of baseload electricity – enough to power more than 12,000 homes per year (based on 5000kWh/year usage for each home). This means the Botany Mill would require less energy from the natural gas network.

Less waste to landfill;
more sustainable

165,000 tonnes of waste materials that cannot practically be recycled would be diverted annually from landfill. That’s equivalent to the weight of the Sydney Opera House.

More efficient;
fewer emissions

The cogeneration plant would offset 80,000 tonnes of CO₂ emissions per year, equivalent to removing 27,800 cars off the road (based on preliminary greenhouse gas emissions calculations).

More benefits for people and the planet

The plant would utilise state-of-the-art technology and adhere to the highest international standards for air quality as set out in the European Industrial Emissions Directive.

More local jobs and support for local manufacturing industry

The plant would be a more than $250 million infrastructure investment. It would create 400 direct construction jobs as well as 30 direct ongoing operational jobs.

The technology

Cogeneration is the production of two forms of energy, generally electrical and thermal.

The fit-for-purpose cogeneration plant at Botany would use safe, non-recyclable materials that would otherwise go to landfill as fuel to create steam and electricity for use in running the Paper and Recycling Mill.

In the same way as a boiler works, the fuel would be directed into a turbine to create energy, with the steam produced used to turn a turbine and create energy to run the mill. This whole process would be completely enclosed. Steam would also be used during the process of recycling paper, showing the dual energy created by the cogeneration plant.

The fuel would include some carefully sorted and processed materials from a SUEZ processing centre in Chullora that undergoes recycling, combined with materials from the recycled paper-making process on-site and can’t be recycled further. These materials would otherwise be transported offsite to landfill.

Using non-recyclable materials as fuel is part of the energy recovery process. Energy recovery technology is sustainable, safe, proven and widely used across the United Kingdom and greater Europe. The technology is also approved for use in New South Wales.

The proposed Botany Cogeneration Plant would be built entirely on the existing paper mill site, in the location where a disused paper manufacturing facility currently stands and within the existing industrial area.

Community Information Centre

We have now opened our Community Information Centre at 492 Bunnerong Rd in Matraville (the old Commonwealth Bank branch). We invite you to visit the centre to learn more about the cogeneration power plant and the energy from waste process. You can speak with people involved with the project and help separate some of the myths from the facts.

We’ll explain how the plant would work and the positive benefits to the community. Our centre has a display on the types of waste that would be used and an explanation of the types that wouldn’t.

In response to the NSW Health advice, the Community Information Centre will not be open from 24 June until further notice.

As government restrictions begin to be lifted, we look forward to once again welcoming members of the community to the centre. Please check back regularly for updates on our re-opening times.

Feel free to contact us via the telephone number and email below.

Please call or email us to arrange an information session if the Community Information Centre is closed. This can be done by emailing a suitable time through to efw.anz@suez.com or by leaving a message for us at 1800 577 318.

Timeline

October 2019 – SEARs (Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements) – Completed

February 2021 – Botany Cogeneration Plant Community Reference Group – 1st meeting

March 2021 – Botany Cogeneration Plant Community Reference Group – 2nd meeting

March 2021 – Botany Cogeneration Plant Community Reference Group – 3rd meeting

March 2021 – Community Information Centre opens at 492 Bunnerong Road, Matraville

May 2021 – Botany Cogeneration Plant Community Reference Group – 4th meeting

June 2021 – Botany Cogeneration Plant Community Reference Group – 5th meeting

September 2021 – Preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) continues

Late 2021 – EIS submission

EIS public exhibition for community comment

Project site

Get involved

We look forward to sharing more information with you and hearing your views as we develop the proposal for the plant.

We will provide updates on this dedicated project website. If you have a specific question about the project that’s not answered in the FAQs below, please email us at efw.anz@suez.com. Alternatively, you may leave a message for us by calling 1800 577 318. We’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Community Reference Group

SUEZ and Opal have established a Community Reference Group (CRG) for the Botany Cogeneration Plant. The CRG comprises representatives from the community, council and government agencies, as well as from SUEZ and Opal. It is drawing on representatives’ local knowledge and perspective to shape project planning and design. The CRG is an opportunity to share ideas and discuss key topics critical to the environmental impact assessment process. This includes emissions and monitoring, traffic and parking, design and visual amenity of the proposed plant. Minutes of the meetings will be available here once approved by members.

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Cogeneration Plant frequently asked questions

How would the cogeneration plant at Botany work?


Processed engineered fuel (PEF) is collected in a bunker where the fuel is mixed to ensure an even burn in the furnace.

The waste is loaded by crane into a feed hopper, then travels down the feed chute into the furnace.

Inside the furnace, a series of rollers move the waste through the furnace where it is combusted at temperatures of around 1000°C.

Burning PEF in the furnace creates hot flue gases which travel below a boiler, heating the water and creating steam that runs through the boiler pipes.

The hot water created in the boiler creates steam. Some of the steam would be used by the mill to recycle paper. Another portion of the steam drives a turbine which then generates electricity.

Ash created by combusting PEF travels along a conveyor. The remaining product can be used in the construction industry and is known as bottom ash.

The flue gas residue created from combusting the fuel would be thoroughly cleaned to neutralise acid gases and remove dioxins. The gases pass through a fine fabric filter to capture particles before being released through a stack, which would be continuously monitored with hourly readings.

How would the cogeneration plant at Botany produce power?


Cogeneration is the production of two forms of energy – electrical and thermal. The proposed cogeneration plant would produce steam and electricity.

The proposed fit-for-purpose cogeneration plant at Botany would use safe, non-recyclable materials that would otherwise go to landfills as fuel to produce steam and electricity for use in running the mill.

In the same way as a boiler works, the fuel would be used to heat water, with the steam produced used to turn a turbine and create energy to run the Mill. This whole process would be completely enclosed.

The fuel would include materials from the recycled paper-making process on site that simply can’t be recycled further, together with some carefully sorted and processed non-recyclable materials from a SUEZ processing centre in Chullora. These materials would otherwise be transported offsite to landfills.

Using non-recyclable materials as fuel is part of the energy recovery process. Energy recovery technology is sustainable, safe, proven and widely used across the United Kingdom and greater Europe. The technology is also approved for use in Australia.

The proposed Botany Cogeneration Plant would be built entirely on the existing Paper and Recycling Mill site, in the location where a disused paper manufacturing facility currently stands within the existing industrial area.

What would the fuel be made up of?


The fuel would include some carefully sorted and processed materials from a SUEZ processing centre in Chullora. It would also include materials from the on-site recycled paper-making process, where waste cannot be recycled further. The waste would otherwise be transported to landfill.

This material is called processed engineered fuel (PEF) and comprises dry waste materials, such as non-recoverable timbers and textiles. PEF is created under controlled and carefully monitored conditions at the site in Chullora to make sure fuel consists of acceptable material.

There may be residual plastic from the paper mill process, but plastic content overall will be minimal. The filtration system following the combustion of waste would be able to treat these small amounts of plastic
in the fuel.

No materials from red-lid household bins would be used as fuel.

What community benefits do cogeneration projects create?

There are many important benefits to a cogeneration power plant. These include a reduction in waste to landfill, the minimisation of net CO₂ emissions, the creation of jobs in the community and an increase in local economic development.

For example, preliminary calculations suggest the plant would offset 80,000 tonnes of CO₂ emissions per year which is equivalent to removing almost 28,000 cars from the road.

Wouldn’t this just be an incinerator?


No. The Botany Cogeneration Plant would be what’s known as an energy recovery plant. The cogeneration power plant would capture energy generated from burning materials (including residual materials from the recycled paper-making process) and use it to power the mill. It is similar to a bagasse plant that uses sugar cane as a fuel to make energy.

Is cogeneration power safe?


Yes. Cogeneration power plants offer a proven and safe technology that is already used extensively by many communities across the United Kingdom and greater Europe. Their energy recovery technology is also approved for use in Australia and continues to grow here. The environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project will include an independent human health risk assessment. The assessment will consider risks presented to humans from any exposure (inhalation, ingestion, skin contact) to pollutants relevant to the project. The report will be available to the community.

How would a cogeneration power plant help Australia’s environment?

The plant would remove 165,000 tonnes of materials from landfill annually to power the mill. This is the same weight as the Sydney Opera House.

Furthermore, initial calculations suggest that a cogeneration plant would offset approximately 80,000 tonnes of CO₂ emissions per year – the equivalent of removing close to 28,000 cars from our roads.

Would you be burning plastics?


The plant would use processed engineered fuel (PEF) which comprises dry waste materials, such as non-recoverable timbers and textiles. The PEF process would be designed to remove plastics – recyclable and non-recyclable. There may be residual plastic from the mill process, but plastic content overall will be minimal.

PEF is created under controlled and carefully monitored conditions to make sure only the acceptable material is contained in the fuel.

PEF excludes household rubbish of any type (processed or not).

Would the plant be noisy?


We understand noise is a concern for the local community. A noise study will be undertaken when looking at potential environmental impacts. We will share results with the community and work through the plant design to minimise noise. This will help ensure that approval and operating conditions can be met.

An example of design considerations is that the fuel would be received in a completely enclosed hall. Noise limiting materials would also be incorporated into the building design to limit background equipment noises.

Development approval conditions apply to the construction and operation of the project. There would be specific noise management, monitoring and mitigation requirements throughout the whole project.

Would the plant pollute the air?


Emissions from the cogeneration plant would not adversely affect the quality of air in a typical urban environment.

The proposed plant would use the world’s best available technology to clean, measure and monitor air emissions.

Air emissions from the cogeneration power plant would include steam, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, all of which exist in the atmosphere naturally.

Before being released out of the plant, these compounds would go through a multi-stage cleaning process to make sure they are neutralised.

What would the plant look like?


The Botany Cogeneration Plant would be designed by architectural studio Hassall to make sure it would be the most appropriate design for the site and location.

The plant would be located on the eastern side of the existing mill site, closest to Botany Road.

We are aware the site is visible from some residential homes. Our team makes a commitment to the community that the design would not have a negative impact on visual amenity for the surrounding neighbourhood.

Would the plant be constructed on the vacant land behind Moorina and Partanna Avenues (Candella development)?

No. It is proposed that the plant be constructed within the boundaries of the existing site and located where the decommissioned B8 paper mill currently sits.

Would there be more trucks coming and going once the plant is operating?


Our initial research indicates there would not be a significant change to truck movements to and from the site. In fact, the net increase in truck movements would be less than 10% of what they are now.

The Opal Paper and Recycling Botany Mill currently transports mill rejects to landfill outside Sydney. Once the cogeneration plant is operational, these truck movements would cease as the mill rejects will be used as fuel – this is around five to seven truck movements per day.

It is anticipated that there would be approximately 30 daily truck movements required for the Botany Cogeneration Plant. Most of the truck movements would relate to the provision of additional fuel, which would be used to supplement the material generated onsite and create energy.

The transportation trucks would follow existing approved routes, not accessing residential streets. A traffic management plan will be prepared to further investigate transportation truck requirements, routes and how potential impacts would be managed and minimised.

Have cogeneration power plants been used successfully in Australia and overseas?


The Boral Cement Works at Berrima in the Southern Highlands uses similar fuel feedstock for cement production works and Visy operates a similar plant in Tumut, NSW.

There are hundreds of cogeneration projects across the United Kingdom, greater Europe, the US and Japan.

These countries would not have met their respective waste recovery and landfill diversion targets – particularly stringent European Union regulations – without significant investment in cogeneration power plants.

In Europe, these energy recovery facilities are built in the middle of major cities, such as Paris, London, Copenhagen and Monaco and are regularly constructed to provide heat energy to adjacent residential neighbourhoods.

Who decides if this project will go ahead?

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment will assess the proposal as a State Significant Development.

The Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) outline the work that SUEZ must undertake in the development of the environmental impact statement (EIS). The EIS will be placed on public exhibition before the final decision on the project is made.

When will the community have a say?


SUEZ is committed to ensuring the community and other stakeholders are informed about the proposed cogeneration power plant throughout the planning process and we welcome input to the project.

We have already conducted a number of engagement activities including focus groups, written communications and direct door knocks as well as making email and phone contact and providing briefings to multiple stakeholder groups.

Community consultation is an integral part of the project over the coming months.