In the planning stages, residents surrounding the T.PARK site objected to the construction of the facility due to environmental and health-related concerns. Residents were also concerned that the influx of trucks transporting sludge to the facility would negatively impact local traffic patterns and become an environmental burden. In response, the City agreed to construct an environmental education centre as part of the development of the facility.
The construction of the plant began in October of 2010 and the facility began to treat waste starting in April of 2015 and reached full-scale operation by April of 2016. In 2016, the facility treated 420,000 tonnes of sludge and generated 50 million kWh of electricity which was, for the most part, used to power the facility. The surplus electricity was sent to the public grid. This is a massive amount of energy; to illustrate, 50 million kWh would be enough to provide electricity for some 10,500 households in Hong Kong for an entire year. The facility has successfully reduced CO2 emissions through green power generation and through mitigating landfill emissions by 27,000 tonnes and 92,000 tonnes respectively. In total, this comes out to 119,000 tonnes of CO2 reduced, which is the equivalent of taking more than 22,000 cars off the road for an entire year.
The incineration process reduces the volume of sewage sludge by 90%, which greatly relieves the burdens on landfills. The facility has also been designed to recover the waste heat from the incineration process and turn it into electricity, which replaces the need for its reliance on traditional means of electricity generation which is fossil fuel intensive.
The plant takes a holistic approach to sustainable planning, and incorporates built-in mechanisms for treating wastewater generated by the facility on-site. The facility has its own desalination plant and collects rain water for non-potable uses.
The facility is designed to be self-sufficient and generates enough energy to power the plant’s daily operation and send enough surplus electricity to the power grid to power 4,000 households. Given that the T.PARK facility both alleviates the burden of disposal of sewage sludge at landfills and produces surplus energy in the process, the potential long-term benefits of this initiative are far-reaching. T.PARK sets a standard for nearby cities in terms of waste treatment, and sets a precedent within Hong Kong by proving the feasibility of alternative means of energy production. The T.PARK facility is an important step in shaping Hong Kong’s “waste-to-energy” journey and a showcase of sustainable solution to waste management.