Saturday 25 May 2019

Dublin's controversial incinerator plans to increase waste processed by 90,000 tonnes a year

The Dublin Waste to Energy incinerator seen across Sandymount Strand
The Dublin Waste to Energy incinerator seen across Sandymount Strand
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The owners of Dublin's controversial waste incinerator - the country's biggest - is considering a plan to increase the amount of waste processed by the facility by 90,000 tonnes a year in what would be a significant expansion of its operations.

Dublin Waste to Energy, which operates the €500m public-private partnership facility, is owned by US group Covanta and a unit of Australia's Macquarie investment bank.

The waste-to-energy plant was designed to handle 600,000 tonnes of waste a year from the Dublin region. That waste is material that might otherwise have gone to landfills. Last November, it reached a goal of processing 1,800 tonnes of solid waste a day - its full capacity.

The plant generates up to 61MW of power a year. Dublin Waste to Energy has now entered into discussions with An Bord Pleanala to explore options to increase the amount of waste the facility processes every year.

A Covanta spokesperson insisted that no concrete plans are yet in place to increase the throughput. "Dublin Waste to Energy has sought a pre-planning application meeting to discuss the process in relation to the possibility of increasing the annual capacity," she said. "There is no application to An Bord Pleanala at present."

The Dublin facility was commissioned last year following a three-year construction phase. During commissioning last summer, 11 workers were hospitalised following an uncontrolled release of lime.

In March this year, Dublin Waste to Energy was fined €1,000 and ordered to pay €14,000 in costs after facing six counts of breaking conditions of a licence for the facility.

It pleaded guilty to three charges, while three charges were dropped.

The firm pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that on June 6 last year that the facility was operated in such a way that gas resulting from the incineration process was raised at a temperature of 850 degrees celsius. In December last year, Macquarie's Green Investment Group (GIG) acquired a 50pc stake in the Dublin waste-to-energy plant, paying €136m in cash.

Covanta chief executive Stephen Jones told news agency Bloomberg at the time that the US group's total equity investment in the Dublin waste-to-energy facility was between €150m and €175m.

"With GIG's investment into the facility for a 50pc stake, we are getting most of our investment back, at €136m, which enables us to fund the new growth projects in the UK," he said. "There is a landfill levy in place in both Ireland and the UK, and this sets a fairly high gate fee for waste disposal in those countries," said Mr Jones at the time.

"With the electricity revenues available from the waste-to-energy process along with the current gate fees, it should be possible to make low- to mid-teen equity returns on the projects we are developing."

Irish Independent

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