By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A Bahamas-based renewable provider is offering to build and operate an estimated $500-$600 million plasma waste-to-energy plant at the New Providence landfill, creating 400-500 full-time jobs, in the process.
Stellar Energy’s chief executive, Dr Fabrizio Zanaboni, yesterday told Tribune Business that its integrated solution offered the Bahamas far greater benefits than the proposals currently being considered by the Government.
It is unclear where Stellar Energy fits into the waste-to-energy mix, given that the Christie administration has publicly said it has deferred any decisions/approvals for waste-to-energy projects until 2014.
There are at least five competing proposals all targeting the New Providence landfall, including one from the consortium featuring Bahamas Waste, Waste Not, United Sanitation and Impac, and on top of that, the Government has said it is aiming to finalise a five-year agreement with a European-controlled entity, RENEW Bahamas.
That deal will see RENEW construct a recycling facility at the landfill under a build/own/operate agreement, plus conduct landfill remediation and study waste streams.
Yet Dr Zanaboni yesterday said Stellar had been having discussions on its proposal with the “highest levels” of government, including Prime Minister Perry Christie and the Energy Task Force, over the past 14-15 months.
The company, which is registered in the Bahamas and has offices in Nassau, has contracted APP Tetronics, a waste-to-energy plasma technology specialist, and plans funding a $200,000 waste analysis study of the New Providence landfill.
A delegation from APP Tetronics is expected to be in New Providence next week to analyse the waste composition at the landfill and examine the possibility of building a 50-80 megawatt (MW) plasma plant.
“The Government is looking for a short-term solution in terms of managing the landfill, and a long term solution regarding waste-to-energy. We can do both straight away,” said Dr Zanaboni.
“We are able to propose an integrated solution whereby we can start to manage the landfill and start recycling, possibly with a joint venture with the Government if they are interested, and we can immediately plan the building of the plant once we get the go ahead.
“The plant would be completed in 18 months. Approximately 2,000 temporary jobs would be created during its construction, and 400-500 full-time jobs between waste management and waste-to-energy running, 95 per cent of which would be Bahamian.”
Dr Zanaboni added: “We don’t have a full estimate on the plant because we first need to assess the output of the waste at the landfill. The lower the waste quality, the higher the plant cost, but a good estimate is between $500-$600 million, which would totally be funded by Stellar Energy.”
Explaining the proposed waste-to-energy process, Dr Zanaboni said: “It’s a plant that is going to convert 1,500 metric tons of solid waste into 50-80 MW of electricity, and that would be done via a dual gasification process.
“Firstly, traditional gasification at a temperature of between 800-1500 degrees celsius, and the second gasification would be plasma. In other words, via enhanced temperatures up to 8,000 celsius.
“The second stage would allow the garbage to be converted with absolutely non-toxic emissions into a very clean synthetic gas. Gas turbines would generate electricity to be inserted into the grid via the construction of a separate substation, which would be built at our own costs.”
Dr Zanaboni added: “We can produce twice as much as any other company in the world with the same amount of garbage. We will present the feasibility study to the Government with confirmation of our funding abilities and the arrangements with our technical partners.
“The Government, at that stage, could be minded to give us a full Memorandum of Understanding. With a MOU we will commit to build, operate and own the plant within 18 months, and we will start discussing a power purchase agreement with the new BEC entity at a competitive price, which we believe will be in the region of 20 cents per kilowatt or even lower.”
Acknowledging that the Government was in advanced discussions with another company over the management of the landfill ,Dr Zanaboni said: “The Government was in discussions previously with another company, RENEW Bahamas, for the short-term remediation of the landfill, RENEW Bahamas.
“We made them aware that our proposal, in many ways, is even more beneficial because we can do what they do and much more, because we can immediately implement waste-to-energy.
“It’s up to the Government on what they want to do. The Government is fully aware now of the advantage of our proposal and it’s up to them to see if they want to integrate our proposal with RENEW Bahama,s since they are in advanced discussions with the company,” he added.
“We can produce an integration and level of sophistication I don’t think RENEW Bahamas would be able to provide.”
Dr Zanaboni added that as part of its proposal, Stellar was also offering to help the Government with equipment, namely up to 15 new trucks for garbage collection, tractors and fire engines.