Building a Future Flush with Renewable Biomethane
Construction has started on a $16 million project that will turn waste flowing to Australia’s largest wastewater treatment plant into carbon-neutral gas for use in Sydney homes and businesses
At an event today, Minister for Lands and Water the Hon Kevin Anderson, together with representatives from energy infrastructure company Jemena, Sydney Water and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) marked the start of work on a $16 million biomethane demonstration project, at Sydney Water’s Malabar Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The Malabar Biomethane project, co-funded by Jemena and ARENA, will be the first in Australia to blend biomethane directly into the gas network, with the aim to start production by the end of 2022. The project will have an initial capacity of 95 Terajoules (TJ) of gas per year, which is enough gas to meet the needs of approximately 6,300 homes. Jemena estimates this number could scale up to 200TJ per annum – which is enough gas to meet the needs of 13,300 homes.
Jemena’s General Manager Renewable Gas, Peter Harcus said biomethane is produced by upgrading biogas which is created through anaerobic digestion; a process which sees bacteria break down waste such as organic matter in wastewater to produce gas. The upgrading process separates methane from other gases and contaminants to produce biomethane. The resulting biomethane gas is carbon-neutral and, importantly, can be used in the same way natural gas is used today – giving customers a renewable gas option, without having to change their appliances.
“One great benefit of biomethane is it can be used with the cooktops and heaters that people have in their homes right now, and without the need to change home appliances or extensive upgrades to the gas network – it’s a pathway that would enable us to reduce emissions faster, while saving people money.” Mr Harcus said.
The Malabar Biomethane project is expected to remove 5,000 tonnes of carbon, and potentially 11,000 tonnes if scaled up to its full potential.
According to ARENA’s Bioenergy Roadmap by 2030, the bioenergy sector will not only enhance Australia’s fuel security but also contribute to around $10 billion in extra GDP per annum, create 26,200 new jobs, reduce emissions by about 9 per cent and divert an extra 6 percent of waste from landfill.