An abattoir powered by biogas

Wednesday, 10 June, 2015 | Supplied by: Quantum Power Limited

An abattoir powered by biogas

Bioenergy company Quantum Power has secured its 10th biogas project, which will generate up to 1 MW of renewable energy at the Southern Meats sheep processing facility in Goulburn. The organic load from the abattoir’s wet waste stream will be converted into biogas, which will then be refined and used as a fuel for a renewable power station to be constructed on-site. Sufficient renewable energy will be produced to offset the power consumption of over 400 homes.

“The engineered anaerobic digestion system and biogas-fuelled power station will take nine months to construct,” said Quantum Power Business Development Manager Kunal Kumar. “Once built, the digestion system will convert the organic load in the waste stream to biogas, comprising approximately 60% methane.

Whilst this is Quantum Power’s 10th commercial scale project, it also represents a number of firsts for the Australian biogas industry.

“The biogas would otherwise escape to the atmosphere, so instead this will be harvested and treated before being used as fuel for large electricity generators.”

Kumar said the biogas project will offset 40% of grid-supplied electricity for the abattoir, making it the first instance where biogas-generated electricity will offset grid-supplied electricity at an Australian abattoir. He added that recent announcements regarding a bipartisan approach to the Renewable Energy Target and the success of the federal government’s first auction of Australian carbon credit units under the Emission Reduction Fund were major catalysts for the decision to proceed with the project.

The project will be owned by Rural Funds Renewables, a subsidiary of agricultural fund manager Rural Funds Management (RFM), while the power station will be operated, maintained, managed and administered by Quantum Power. This means the benefits will be shared between Southern Meats, Quantum Power and Rural Funds Renewables via long-term collaborative contractual agreements; the first time such a financing structure has been deployed in the Australian food processing industry for a biogas project.

“The project is great news for Southern Meats, the town of Goulburn and the red meat processing sector as a whole,” said Southern Meats CEO Coll MacRury. “This project will lead to improved environmental outcomes, a more competitive cost base and will also lead to more jobs for the local community, as Quantum Power will give preference to local firms for construction and ongoing operating contracts.”

RFM Managing Director David Bryant added that the project will “provide economic benefits and improved environmental outcomes in waste product management”.

“Competitive returns, the opportunity to provide local employment opportunities and the delivery of tangible environmental benefits are critical to RFM when making any investment decision,” Bryant said. “This project delivers on all of those criteria and we are proud to be part of the team making this happen.”

A similar project installed by the Gold Coast-based bio-energy company has enjoyed great success in Bromelton, Queensland, for the past five years in converting production by-product wet waste into methane-rich biogas.

Since installation in 2010, Quantum Power has been able to provide a reliable electricity supply to the site around the clock during production times. The Bromelton project is expected to save 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum at full installed capacity.

The success of projects such as Bromelton have also contributed to a spike of activity within the Darling Downs region, which has been identified as Australia’s first biogas farming hub.

Quantum Power Chairman Richard Brimblecombe said, “The Darling Downs will continue to be at the forefront of Australia’s sustainable farming initiatives. We are in discussions regarding numerous other projects in the region and I believe, in the long term, the Darling Downs could support in excess of 20 separate biogas projects.”

One such project in the Darling Downs region, installed in 2014, is poultry farm Darling Downs Farm Fresh Eggs — claimed as the first Australian egg producer to power its business using renewable energy generated from poultry manure.

Quantum Power is currently undertaking its fourth multimillion-dollar project in the region.

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