Waste to energy plant will be clean and safe, backers insist

Colm Ward


Colm Ward

Gortadroma landfill where Cadence EnviroPower is proposing to build a waste to energy facility
THE backers of the plan to build a power plant at Gortadroma landfill have insisted that their technology is clean and safe.

THE backers of the plan to build a power plant at Gortadroma landfill have insisted that their technology is clean and safe.

Representatives of Cadence EnviroPower were in Limerick this week to outline their plans to build a 36MW power plant in West Limerick that would convert waste to energy using a process known as air-fed gasification. This involves heating domestic waste to a high temperature in a low oxygen environment to produce a gas known as syngas.

This would be the first facility of its kind in Ireland, but company executive Keith Hulbert insisted that the effectiveness of the system was well established.

“This is a tried and proven technology,” Mr Hulbert, told local area councillors this week.

“We see this as the future both of power production and landfill reduction,” he added.

The company is proposing to lease a 20-acre site in Gortadroma for a 30 year period on which to build the facility. The plant will employ up to 120 people when fully operational and hundreds of workers in the construction phase, according to Mr Hulbert.

The plant will be capable of producing 300,000 megawatt hours of electricity every year - enough to power 70,000 households. Under the terms of the proposed lease, the company would pay Limerick City and County Council €200m over the next 30 years.

Mr Hulbert claimed that the gasification process they intend to use would “virtually eliminate” emissions of mono-nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides as well as reducing emissions of carbon dioxide. “This will comfortably meet EU and EPA standards as far as clean technology is concerned,” he said.

In response to a question from Cllr Tom Neville, Mr Hulbert said the company did not intend to ‘mine’ existing landfill waste in the site. Instead they plan to use ongoing waste streams to supply the approximately 1000 tonnes per day that will be required to power the facility. He explained that the waste product from the process would take the form of ash which could then be used to produce construction material or for odour suppression on existing landfill.

He also assured councillors that they did not plan to import waste in order to meet the needs of the facility.

Mr Hulbert cited a number of reasons for choosing the Gortadroma site, including the fact that it was an existing waste processing facility, attractive waste disposal ‘gate’ fees and electricity rates.

However, he noted that the deadline for its power purchase agreement was the end of 2015 and that unless a lease agreement was put in place before that, they would not be in a position to go ahead with the project.

Councillors must now decide on whether to approve or reject the plan.