China Everbright eyes more projects to generate power from waste in Asia

The Beijing-based operator of waste incinerators that produce electricity is in talks to build more projects in southern Asia after it won the region’s first open tender in Vietnam

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 5:57pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 10:38pm

China Everbright International (CEI), one of the nation’s largest operators of municipal waste incinerators that produce electricity, is in talks to build more projects in southern Asia after it won the region’s first open tender in Vietnam last July.

The Beijing-based company, a unit of state-owned finance-to-industrial conglomerate China Everbright Group, which last year set up an international business unit, is also eyeing opportunities in western and northern Asia, chief executive Chen Xiaoping told reporters in Beijing on Thursday.

“The project in Can Tho, Vietnam we won was southern Asia’s first waste-to-energy project open tender,” he said. “This landmark win will help our effort to find a bigger market to export our equipment and expertise. We are in talks on potential projects in the region.”

These would mainly be located in other Vietnamese cities, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, where government officials have expressed interest in such projects.

The United Nations last year asked CEI to help come up with global standards for public and private sector cooperation in waste-to-energy projects to drive their construction in developing nations, which urgently need sustainable solutions to process municipal wastes, Chen said.

By providing hourly [emissions] data, we hope to play a leadership role so that our peers will also meet more stringent disclosure standards
Chen Xiaoping, CEI

The Ministry of Science and Technology last September invited environment officials from over 10 nations along the “One Belt, One Road” economic belt to visit CEI’s facilities. Some officials from western and northern Asia have also expressed interest in building waste-to-energy plants, he added.

“But they need to come up with policies and investment models before projects can be offered for bidding,” Chen said.

Despite the US$47 million Vietnam project win and a 123 million takeover of Poland’s leading solid waste treatment firm Novago last year that gave it a development foothold in Central and Eastern Europe, he said China remains the firm’s focus.

CEI’s overseas expansion is not being driven by the intense price-based competition it has been facing at home, he added.

To differentiate itself from rivals, CEI announced on Thursday that it has started to disclose its waste-to-power plants’ emissions data on an hourly basis from January 1.

It began disclosing the data once a month in August 2015, and later changed to a daily basis.

Chen said it is part of the firm’s efforts to ease public opposition to such projects stemming from a “not in my backyard” mentality.

“By providing hourly data, we hope to play a leadership role so that our peers will also meet more stringent disclosure standards,” he said at a press conference announcing the change. “One firm cannot make much impact but industry-wide effort can make a big difference.”

He was referring to the need for the industry to allay public concerns that emissions from waste to energy projects are harmful, which had in some cases led to protests against new projects.

The firm has also been holding plant open days for the public since June 2016, attracting over 31,000 visits in the past seven months.

CEI operates 26 waste-to-energy projects in China, all of which it said more than meet the “Euro2010” emission standards, with “near zero” emission of toxic dioxins.

It added that their waste waster is “industrially reusable” after treatment, and meets mainland recycled water standards.

According to the central government’s development plan for the biomass energy industry released a month ago, Beijing’s aim is for the nation to have 7.5 gigawatts of waste-to-energy projects by 2020, up 60 per cent from 4.7GW at the end of 2015.

This could see 40 per cent of the nation’s municipal waste treated by waste-to-energy plants by 2020, compared to just over 20 per cent currently, Chen said.

Meanwhile, he said, preparations for CEI to separately list its renewable energy and solid and hazardous waste treatment unit has been mostly completed, and it is waiting for a better “window” to launch it this year.

“We had wanted to launch it late last year, but market conditions had been volatile in December. We also wanted to wait until our annual results are published so that investors have more data to appreciate the unit’s growth,” he said.

CEI is not lacking in financing. Last October, the company obtained a 20 billion yuan credit facility from the China Development Bank, of which 5 billion yuan is targeted for projects of the unit to be spun off, he added.