Biomethane enters gas grid in Australian first

Close-up shot of plant at the Malabar Biomethane Demonstration Project (optimal)
Jemena's Malabar Biomethane Demonstration Project

Gas produced from what Sydneysiders flush down the toilet is now being injected into the New South Wales gas network, thanks to the Australian-first Malabar Biomethane Demonstration Project in Sydney’s south-east.

Co-funded by major energy infrastructure company Jemena and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the Malabar Biomethane Demonstration Project is creating biomethane by upgrading biogas produced from organic waste. The project is a partnership with Sydney Water and is being housed at the Malabar Wastewater Resource Recovery Plant.

Related article: Jemena breaks ground at Malabar Biomethane Project

The next phase of the project, expected to occur by the end of June, will see the facility ramp up production of biomethane to an initial capacity of 95 terajoules of renewable gas per annum.

“We know when you use biomethane for cooking and heating it is helping to lower Australia’s overall carbon emissions,” Jemena managing director Frank Tudor said.

“This is a potential game-changer for Australian energy users as biomethane is completely compatible with existing gas appliances and can be used in those manufacturing processes which currently rely on gas for heat.”

Biomethane is produced in two stages. First, biogas is produced through the process of anaerobic digestion, where bacteria breaks down organic wastes in wastewater. Then contaminants and impurities are removed from this biogas to become biomethane.

Sydney Water managing director Roch Cheroux said, “Sydney Water identified an opportunity to maximise the value of waste we produce, and by partnering with Jemena, we are now able to play a significant role in helping thousands of Sydney homes and businesses increase their efficiency and sustainability. For the first time, it will be possible to use a mix of biomethane and natural gas for cooking, heating, and hot water.

“From this moment, gas will be directed back into the supply network, allowing the facility to turn waste material into a new renewable energy source. It will also mean in the future, biomethane could power those NSW businesses that rely on gas to carry out their day-to-day activities while also looking to decarbonise their supply chains.

“This Australian first trial is expected to produce the same amount of gas used by approximately 6,300 homes each year, and this is just the start. If we work together across industries, we can ultimately create a better life for all our customers by delivering reliable and renewable gas and helping reduce households’ carbon footprint.”

Related article: Jemena and Origin ink renewable gas supply deal

Jemena’s research has found that in New South Wales alone there are enough potential sources of biomethane—wastewater plants, landfill and food, agricultural, and crop waste— to generate about 30 petajoules of biomethane each year. This is approximately enough gas to meet the needs of all of Jemena’s current residential customers in New South Wales.

Origin Energy has signed an agreement with Jemena for the biomethane produced at the Malabar facility and will offer business customers the option to benefit from the renewable gas.

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