A Canadian firm is looking to set up an approximately $100 million waste to energy plant facility at Vaucluse, St Thomas.
The President of Ridley Energy Group Inc. (REGI), David Ridley, announced his company’s intention this morning during a media conference, and said he would soon be submitting an application to the Town and Country Planning Department for approval.
He said after two years of searching for a suitable location, a site of approximately 20 acres of agricultural land adjacent to the Scrapman Recycling and the Vaucluse Quarry North was settled on.
Once permission was granted for a change in land use, he said he would be moving “full steam ahead” to construct the facility, which could take about one and a half years to complete.
Town hall meetings and an impact assessment study would be carried out.
Stating that the plans for the facility began in 2011, Ridley explained that it would process organic waste to produce electricity and a liquid organic fertilizer by way of anaerobic digestion. There are plans to sell the fertilizer in Barbados, the region as well as in North America.
“Since 2011, REGI has had as consultants Mr. Peter Mann and Trevor Straker in Barbados and, through them, we have established a working relationship with the Government of Barbados that supports our waste to energy project,” said Ridley, disclosing that relationships with potential organic waste providers have already been established as well.
“I want to make it perfectly clear that we are not involved with household solid waste of any kind which could be classified as garbage. We only deal with organic waste that comes from the production of rum, beer, pork and chicken producers, fish markets and abattoirs,” he said.
International professional services company, Stantec Inc., has been chosen to help in the designing of the facility as well as with the site planning and engineering. Town planning and development consultants Richard Gill Associates Limited will also be involved in the project.
While he could not say how much manpower would be needed once the facility was completed, Ridley said during the construction phase a number of jobs would be created for local contractors, and when completed, it would create opportunities for up to 40 haulers.
“Our strategy is to develop the waste to energy facility to generate about 5.4 megawatts of electricity, utilize island organic waste . . . and in the end, after the production, there is nitrogen, phosphate and potassium which are the essential ingredients of fertilizers. We also have in our process an apparatus that discharges clean water that can be reused in the agriculture and commercial sectors,” said Ridley.
“The facility will have many benefits for the people of Barbados. We will help to stabilize and reduce electricity cost, reduce the amount of imported fertilizer and we will ensure environmental sustainability by reducing the management of organic waste to the landfill and the ocean. It will help in the reduction of greenhouse gases [and] we will lower the production of sludge for management as a waste . . .” he added.
The recycling advocate gave the assurance that since the anaerobic system was enclosed there should be no worries about strong scents from that facility blowing downwind. “The smell is minimal to nil,” said Ridley.
He said following initial discussion with some potential organic waste suppliers, he was expecting over 1,000 cubic metres of waste to be delivered to the processing facility daily which, he added, could be expanded to take more waste over time.
Asked why such a facility at this time, Ridley said: “Barbados is one of the leaders in the Caribbean and it is a good place to start . . . this is not going to cost the country, it is good for the island and it is going to take waste that maybe is damaging the ground water or maybe going out in the ocean.”
He added: “We are going to take something that is a waste product and turn it into a usable product. For [Barbados] fertilizer is imported and now you will have a homegrown production of fertilizer . . . any time is right to do it”.
Ridley said other Caribbean islands including St Lucia, Jamaica and Guyana were also on his radar for the construction of similar plants.
Just last year, Government signed a multi-million dollar agreement with Guernsey-based Cahill Energy to build and operate a leading edge clean energy plant, with officials promising over 600 jobs.
Cahill Energy was expected to invest up to $240 million (USD) in the proposed plant at Vaucluse, St Thomas. It also pledged to stimulate growth and to help the country realize millions in savings over the lifetime of the 30-year contract.
However, there has been no recent update on that project.