Ulu Pandan Incineration Plant, Singapore’s first waste-to-energy incineration plant, ceases operations today after being a key feature in Singapore’s waste management process over the past 30 years.
Completed at a cost of S$170 million, the Ulu Pandan Incineration Plant was officially opened on 30 July 1979 by the then-Minister for the Environment, Mr Lim Kim San.
Since its opening, the Ulu Pandan Incineration Plant has handled on average 1,100 tonnes of waste per day, which forms about 15.3% of the total waste disposed of per day in Singapore in 2008. It has also generated, on average, about 5,800 MWh of energy each month, enough to power some 16,000 four-room HDB flats for a month.
As a result of well-planned maintenance programmes, good operating procedures and a group of dedicated staff, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has been able to operate the Ulu Pandan Incineration Plant for 30 years, 10 more years than it was initially planned for.
“With growing concerns over rapid urbanization, Singapore has demonstrated how a small highly-urbanised city with scarce land resources can develop cost-effective waste management solutions. Our incineration plants have reduced the need for landfills and UPIP will be remembered for its pioneering role in the adoption of waste-to-energy technology in Singapore”, said Mr Andrew Tan, Chief Executive Officer of NEA.
With the closure of the Ulu Pandan Incineration Plant, a new plant operated by Keppel Seghers will come into operation to take over the incineration load. The Keppel Seghers Tuas Waste-to-Energy Plant (KSTP) is NEA’s first Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) project, and is part of a move to open up the waste-to-energy incineration industry to the private sector. It comes under the Government’s Design, Build, Own and Operate (DBOO) Scheme.
NEA will continue to operate the three other waste-to-energy plants at Senoko, Tuas, and Tuas South.
Waste-to-Energy Plants – Solution to Singapore’s Waste Load
Prior to 1979, all general wastes in Singapore were disposed of at landfills on the mainland. However, growing affluence and rapid population increase led to a significant rise in waste generation. The increase in waste resulted in a faster depletion of available land for landfills, prompting the need to source for an alternative method of disposal.
Waste-to-energy incineration was found to be the most effective solution. In addition to reducing the volume of the waste, heat energy produced from the combustion process is used to generate electricity, while ferrous metals from the ash residue are recovered for recycling.
Following the success of the Ulu Pandan Incineration Plant, three additional plants were subsequently built over a period of 20 years, each with improved design and efficiency. These were the Senoko, Tuas, and Tuas South plants. The four waste-to-energy plants produced 1,048,072 MWh of electricity in 2008, accounting for about 3% of Singapore’s total electricity consumption.
NEA has also put in place an integrated solid waste management system to ensure that all general wastes that are not recycled are collected and disposed of safely at waste-to-energy plants, or at the offshore Semakau Landfill in the case of non-incinerable wastes, such as construction and demolition refuse.
Today, the four waste-to-energy incineration plants have hosted numerous local and overseas visitors looking to learn more about Singapore’s success in waste management. These include visits by students as part of National Education, to gain a better understanding of solid waste management and the various waste minimisation efforts in Singapore.