Krungthep Thanakom Co (KT), the business arm of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), recently floated a new project to better deal with the enormous amount of rubbish in Bangkok - a power plant which generates electricity from trash.
Rubbish collected from around Bangkok piles up at City Hall’s garbage dump in the Nong Khaem area. The enormous amount of trash generated by Bangkok residents each day has prompted City Hall’s Krungthep Thanakom Co to build a garbage-fuelled power plant. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN
The planned power plant, which will involve an initial investment of 2 billion baht, is part of KT's scheme to manage household rubbish and produce clean energy.
The scheme is the brainchild of former Bangkok governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra, who had a policy to support Bangkokians by providing a better quality of life and a healthier environment, said Amorn Kitchawengkul, KT's managing director.
The key strategy is to enhance rubbish management efficiency as well as prevent environmental problems, he said.
KT rolled out the project late last year following a feasibility study conducted by an advisory firm.
According to KT, the project will be the role model for sustainable trash management, boost rubbish management efficiency and curb pollution problems, and promote alternative energy sources.
If the project is approved by the new executives of the BMA after the governor election on March 3, KT will ask for a loan of 2 billion baht to build the plant.
The plant is expected to be built on a 25-rai site in the On Nut area. The company has already set up an infectious waste management facility there.
Under the plan, the rubbish collected from households and communities across the city will be separated. Some will be recycled for sale, while organic waste, which accounts for 60% of the total rubbish, will be fermented to produce gas.
"Gas will be used in a process to generate electricity," Mr Amorn said. "About 400-600 tonnes of rubbish per day can produce 4 megawatts of power"
"Some electricity will be used within the plant and the remaining 2.7 megawatts will be sold to the Metropolitan Electricity Authority," he added.
Mr Amorn said plant construction and machinery installment will take about 20 months in the project's first phase. The second phase will involve the production of electricity from 400-600 tonnes of rubbish a day in the next 20 years.
"The project is not intended to reap profits. It will raise public awareness about separating rubbish content which is commonly practised overseas," Mr Amorn said.
"This rubbish can be used to generate income as well as help to cut the expense of trash transport and elimination."
The BMA spends about 2 billion baht every year to transport and eliminate rubbish. About 9,000 tonnes of trash is collected in Bangkok each day.
About 10,000 people are hired to work on the city's rubbish management with 2,000 garbage trucks and dozens of boats deployed for garbage collecting operations.
According to the Pollution Control Department, the amount of rubbish and waste collected around the country comes to about 16 million tonnes a year, or 43,000 tonnes a day, 22% of which is generated in Bangkok.
Garbage management "is a huge burden on both the environment impact and budgets", Mr Amorn said.
He said the trash-fuelled power plant project is expected to reach break-even point in 15 years.
The plant can receive rubbish at up to 1,000 tonnes a day, he added.
According to Mr Amorn, KT has an advantage in running the project because the firm can kick off the operation immediately without the need to follow the Public-Private Joint Venture Act and could ask for loans by using a BMA contract as mortgage security.
KT will also be eligible for incentives from the Board of Investment or soft loans from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. In addition, the BMA can examine KT's project proceedings conveniently as it is the major shareholder of the firm and KT's contracts with the BMA can also be flexible.
Mr Amorn said the plant concept had been carried out commercially in Germany, Japan, Spain, France, Qatar and many other places.
However, whether the project goes ahead will depend on the new Bangkok governor, he said.
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- Writer: Supoj Wancharoen