|I have several questions for both Mazlan and Siti Fatimah of MwtE to answer… 1. On the ‘privately-sourced’ fund provider: Who are these fund providers? How do they get back their investment plus profits?
2. How much the local munacipality has to pay MwtE for every ton of garbage they sent to the plant?
3. How much dioxins and other toxic gases would be emitted from the plant everyday? How about the ashes left behind and what would be the proportion of ashes versus solid waste (in percentage)?
4.MwtE claims that the energy produced by the company would be given ‘FREE’ to TNB. Why should the energy be given free to TNB when the taxpayers have to pay for the garbage burnt at the plant through the local municipality/municipalities?
Both Mazlan and Siti Fatimah have painted a ‘too good to be true’ picture without giving any proof. This is not good enough. And the Ministers in charge of environment and local government (Azmi and Ong Kata Nothing)were still keeping mum on the project as if they have nothing to do with it. So is Ali Rustam, the chief minister of Melaka.
‘Plenty to gain’ from energy plant
|Savings all round – this is what the proponent of a waste-to-energy plant is holding out as an incentive to proceed with the project that has run foul of environmental activists. Melaka Waste to Energy Sdn Bhd’s (MwtE) executive chairperson Mazlan Ali spelt it out in further detail:
• Taxpayers do not have to bear the construction cost of RM612 million, which will be privately sourced;
• There will be savings of RM60 million annually in government subsidies; and
• The plant will supply national utility company Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) 35MW of energy free of charge. This contrasts with the energy from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) – who source their fuel from national oil company Petronas at highly subsidised rates – and eventually sell the output to TNB. Mazlan said 35MW of such fossil fuel-generated energy supplied by IPPs cost taxpayers RM58 million in subsidies.“With this plant, there are no subsidies at all to inflate the price of the same amount of energy supplied to TNB,” said Mazlan in an interview at the MWtE office in Kuala Lumpur.
The plant proposed in Sungai Udang, Malacca, is touted to converted waste to energy, using ‘plasma arc’ technology.
MwtE and its partner Green Energy and Technology Sdn Bhd plan to convert 1,200-1,500 tonnes of municipal, commercial and industrial waste in Malacca daily into 45MW, from which 10MW will be channelled back to the plant for its energy needs.
With the plant requiring RM82,000 for daily operations in treating and converting to energy 1,000 tonnes of waste, Mazlan conceded that the facility would be significantly more expensive than landfills.
“But that’s only in the short term. What about the long term? What about the social costs of landfills?” he asked.
“Think of how much millions of ringgit are being spent to tackle waste leaches into the land and water sources, the cleaning up of rivers polluted by legal and illegal landfills, and so on.”
Furthermore, he said, the MwtE plant is expected to last 25 years without any major change or replacement of technology parts. With maintenance, its lifespan can stretch to 40 to 50 years.
Trading ‘carbon credits’
According to MWtE managing director Siti Fatimah Mohd Shariff, the company will also earn revenue from the sale of ‘carbon credits’ to such international buyers as Japan Carbon Finance, one of the largest such buyers worldwide.
(The Kyoto Protocol on climate change allows companies, among others, to trade ‘carbon credits’ derived from activities accredited as absorbing carbon dioxide – thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.
(Those generating pollution may ‘buy’ credits to offset the impact of emissions from their activities, indirectly paying for an environmental clean-up and ultimately meeting targets set by the Protocol.)
“MwtE has been recognised in that our waste-treatment and conversion-to-energy process is equivalent to getting rid of 106,000 cars per year, or planting 1.65 million trees per annum,” said Fatimah.
Environmental and social activists have claimed that the Malacca government is courting potential environmental disaster in backing the project, which still awaits approval from the Department of Environment.
Barely having breathed a sigh of relief after the mega-incinerator proposal in Kampung Broga, Selangor, was aborted, they have demanded proof – not promises – of environmental safety and cost-efficiency.
Questions for MwtE to answer