Local, green and powerful: Renewable gas needs to be at forefront of technologies identified for investment, says growing number of industries and businesses
12 AUGUST 2020, SYDNEY – An open letter to the Commonwealth government co-authored by Bioenergy Australia and the Australian Hydrogen Council, and signed by over fifty supporting organisations and businesses, is advocating for renewable gas to be prioritised as part of Australia’s Technology Investment Roadmap which is currently under development.
The open letter outlines the common ground for renewable gas market development with a diverse cross sector backing the call on government to recognise the potential of biomethane and hydrogen to play a significant role in solving energy market decarbonisation challenges while providing the lowest cost transition to a decarbonised energy system.
CEO Bioenergy Australia, Shahana McKenzie, said the letter represents thousands of organisations and millions of employees across business, industry and utilities sectors who are willing to work together on innovative cross sector solutions in the market. “This support, combined with the right government vision and investment, means Australia could unlock the significant economic and varied social benefits of bioenergy – particularly in regional areas,” said McKenzie.
This includes waste-water treatment plants, agricultural and food processing facilities, meat and livestock processing facilities where the methane is captured and used rather than emitted into the atmosphere.
CEO of the Australian Hydrogen Council, Dr Fiona Simon, called for the government to support the massive innovation and opportunities to improve national industry infrastructure. “Australia can continue to thrive as a major global energy producer in the new economy with our vast renewable energy capacity and renewable gas technology.
“Developing hydrogen as part of the long-term energy mix can have enormous payback for Australians. Clean hydrogen allows Australia to reduce our carbon emissions. Large scale hydrogen production will mean new jobs and a major new export market.
“Australia has some of the world’s best hydrogen research projects. It is essential we turbo charge these with additional investment and supportive policy.
“To reap these benefits, Australians require the government to clearly signal a national direction for renewable gas. Hydrogen can add huge value to the manufacturing sector which can be in regional or remote areas. We urge the Commonwealth government to support renewable gas as a significant part of our national energy portfolio.”
A landmark report commissioned by Bioenergy Australia last year on the availability of biogas in Australia identified 371PJ of available energy, which is enough to decarbonise industrial, commercial and residential gas users currently supplied by distributed gas networks across Australia.
The report provides nine recommendations to overcome the challenges facing the emerging industry, which include the need for more favourable policy conditions to enable the growth of a mature and sustainable biogas industry in Australia.
The National Hydrogen Strategy recognised the significant opportunity for network blending to reduce emissions domestically and build a platform for future exports, strengthening Australia’s economy.
Renewable gas provides compelling solutions to support the uptake of variable renewable electricity, and further drive decarbonisation through solutions for heavy industry, transport, domestic gas supply and energy storage.
The joint letter highlights a number of key policy measures, common to biomethane and hydrogen, to enable the renewable gas markets, for example, unlocking seed funding and establishing Special Activation Precincts to further support renewable gas market activation and sector coupling to harness the full range of renewable gas solutions.
Simon and McKenzie said, “Government also needs to move quickly to get a certification scheme in place to facilitate domestic and export hydrogen and renewable gas purchase agreements, and establish a market mechanism to drive blending of renewable gas in the gas network to scale the market.
“We are confident with the right policy settings, Australia can attract the necessary investment to deliver a cost-effective, zero-emissions energy system that will create new jobs and new industries.
“To achieve this, we are calling on governments and relevant agencies to work with us to further identify and raise awareness of the renewable gas resources that are available for development at a Federal, State/Territory and regional level and unlock seed funding from government and private investment to showcase, activate and de-risk the hydrogen and biomethane market across Australia.”
McKenzie adds “Creating this policy environment will enable gas users to quickly and cost-effectively achieve net zero emissions now, while also scaling to play a significant role in decarbonising the gas supply system over the next decade and beyond.” concluded McKenzie.
Signatories calling for Australian biomethane market development
1. Ai Group
2. Australian Hydrogen Council
5. APGA (Australian Pipeline and Gas Association)
6. Aquatec Maxcon
8. AusNet Services
9. Australian Gas Infrastructure Group
10. Business Council of Australia
11. Bioenergy Australia
14. BTS Biogas
16. Custom Denning
17. Dansk Biogas Alliance
18. Daintree Bio Precinct
19. Delorean Energy
22. Energy Networks Australia
26. Energy Users Association of Australia
27. Gas Energy Australia
28. Gippsland Water
30. Hazer Group
31. Helmont Energy
32. Hitachi Zosen INOVA
34. Hunter Water
37. Infrastructure Partnerships Australia
38. Interface Carpets
40. LMS Energy
42. Origin Energy
43. Queensland Farmers Federation
44. Quanta Services Australia
45. Renewable Gas Alliance
46. Sydney Water
50. Waga Energy
51. Water Services Association of Australia
52. Yarra Valley Water
Available for Interview:
● Shahana McKenzie, CEO, Bioenergy Australia
● Fiona Simon, CEO Australian Hydrogen Council
A range of regional biogas projects and interviews are available on request.
About Bioenergy Australia
Bioenergy Australia is committed to accelerating Australia’s bioeconomy. Our mission is to foster the bioenergy sector to generate jobs, secure investment, maximise the value of local resources, minimise waste and environmental impact, and develop and promote national bioenergy expertise into international markets. Australia lags behind the world when it comes to bioenergy, and we aim to change that. We empower, share knowledge, and connect Australian bioenergy producers, investors, researchers, and users to make Australia’s bioeconomy world-class. http://www.bioenergyaustralia.org.au
About Australian Hydrogen Council
The Australian Hydrogen Council is the peak representative body for the Australian hydrogen industry. It is focussed on building a secure, clean and resilient energy future based on hydrogen by accelerating the commercialisation of new hydrogen and fuel cell technologies for transportation, export, storage, large volume and industry applications in Australia.
Biogas is produced from the anaerobic (oxygen free) digestion of organic matter. It can be made from a large variety of organic resources, including industrial waste, agricultural waste, energy crops, sludge from wastewater treatment and biowaste (co-digestion or mono-digestion of food waste and other types of biowaste).
In addition to energy production, anaerobic digestion also produces digestate – the material remaining after anaerobic digestion of biodegradable feedstocks. Digestate is a nutrient-rich material that can be used as a fertiliser and applied on agricultural land instead of chemical fertilisers.
Biogas is a source of energy that can be converted into heat or electricity. Biogas can also be upgraded into biomethane: a gas with a chemical composition very similar to natural gas. Biomethane can be injected into the gas grid and serve several uses for consumers such as heating, industrial purposes or fuel for gas vehicles.
Bioenergy is generated from the conversion of solid and liquid biomass products for use as dispatchable electricity, heat, gas, liquid fuels and bio-based products.
The benefits of bioenergy are multi-faceted and cover the following four key areas:
● Enhanced energy security through domestic production of biofuels and diversification of electricity and heat fuel sources
● Greater utilisation of waste streams through higher recycling and reuse of waste from agricultural, industrial, commercial and domestic activities
● Regional employment, investment and economic development as the feedstock used for bioenergy often stems from rural and agricultural activities, through new or existing manufacturing processes
● Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as sustainably sourced biomass is carbon neutral
Hydrogen provides a new way to store and transport energy, and it can do this with no carbon emissions.
Hydrogen can be used to store renewable energy from solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind, which can then be used to:
• Export to nations that are moving toward a hydrogen economy
• Help manage the security of the electricity grid by:
o storing excess renewable energy from one time period (and place) and then releasing the energy back into the grid when (and where) it’s needed; and
o using electrolysers (which produce hydrogen from water) as a flexible load that can come on and off quickly to support the grid.
Hydrogen can be used to take the carbon out of:
• Transport, including light and heavy road vehicles, trains, ferries, ships and planes.
• Household and industry heating and cooking, by replacing natural gas.
• Carbon emissions-heavy processes, such as for oil refining, and the production of chemicals and steel.
Hydrogen connects the transport and energy sectors in a new way, allowing for energy to be converted across uses. It can be produced on-site, with an electrolyser using only electricity and water as inputs.