How biomethane can help turn gas into a renewable energy source

Infrastructure Construction activity is on a rebound, if not a boom, and it is expected to grow by 10% to $62 billion next year.

Non-Residential Building activity has been showing strong growth in approvals over the last two years and work is expected to expand by a hefty 12% this year, lifting the value of activity to $42 billion.

A spike from the installation of the massive prelude floating LNG facility offshore from Western Australia is driving an uplift in Heavy Industry Including Mining this year. This will be temporary and mining related construction is expected to continue a trend decline and ‘bottom-out’ over the next two years or so.

Residential Building activity has peaked and is now in decline. While the housing market is in a different stage of the cycle in each of states (and cities), the ACIF CFC expects nationwide Residential Building work to fall this year and for the fall to deepen next year to nearly 5%. This will drag Residential Building activity down from the $101 billion achieved at the peak of the ‘boom’ to $93 billion over the next 2-3 years.


Biomethane’s benefits include:

  • Net zero emissions
  • Interchangeability with existing natural gas usage
  • Ability to capture methane emissions from other processes such as landfill and manure production
  • Potential economic opportunity for regional areas
  • Generation of skilled jobs in planning, engineering, operating and maintenance of biogas and biomethane plants.

 Australia’s potential for Biomethane

While Australia currently does not have any upgrading plants, the production of biomethane can provide a huge boost to Australia’s nascent biogas industry.

The main use for biogas in Australia is for electricity production, heat, and combined heat and power.

Australia’s biogas sector has more than 240 anaerobic digestion (AD) plants, most of which are associated with landfill gas power units and municipal wastewater treatment. They also include:

  • about 20 agricultural AD plants, which use waste manure from piggeries
  • about 18 industrial AD plants, which use wastewater from red meat processing and rendering as feedstock for biogas production;

There is also manure from around one million head of cattle in feedlots, which is currently not used to produce biogas, but is stockpiled for use as fertiliser on agricultural land.

There are untapped opportunities to produce biomethane using municipal sewage sludge, red meat processing waste, residues from breweries and distilleries, food waste, and poultry and cattle manure.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is currently supporting the Australian Biomass for Bioenergy (ABBA) project. The Australian Renewable Energy Mapping Infrastructure (AREMI) platform will map existing and projected biomass resource data from the ABBA project, alongside other parameters such as existing network and transport infrastructure, land-use capability, and demographic data.

This topic and many others related to biogas and bioenergy more widely will be discussed at this week’s Annual Bioenergy Australia conference.

Of course, biomethane is just one way in which Australia can make the transition to a low-emissions future. But as natural gas is already touted as a “transition fuel” to a low-carbon economy, these new technologies can help ensure that existing gas infrastructure can still be used in the future.

(Source: Bernadette Mccabe, The Conversation)


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