Goulburn abattoir turns its waste into bioenergy

Friday, 13 April, 2018

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A Goulburn abattoir has teamed up with a Queensland energy provider to turn its waste into energy, thanks to the support of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

On behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA last year provided $2.1 million in funding to ReNu Energy to design, construct, own and operate a biogas facility at Southern Meats’ existing abattoir facility. The abattoir processes sheep and lambs, using around 20,000 kWh of electricity every day.

“Disposing abattoir waste is a major environmental challenge, and processing and storing meat is an energy-intensive business,” said Minister for the Energy and Environment Josh Frydenberg.

“That’s why this project is win-win; it helps reduce the need to dispose of waste from the abattoir and it provides Southern Meats with a more affordable source of energy.”

The $5.75 million project consists of an anaerobic digestion process where the abattoir waste is treated in a covered lagoon to biologically break down the effluent to produce biogas. The lagoon acts like a giant bladder that can expand to hold biogas when energy demand is low, saving it to generate power when demand hits a peak. Simultaneously, this system disposes of waste from the abattoir and reduces methane emissions.

Biogas is treated and transferred to two 800 kW dual fuel generators to produce approximately 3800 MWh of electricity per year for use during the manufacturing process to reduce peak electricity consumption. The generators are able to supplement biogas with natural gas, allowing the plant to minimise use of electricity from the grid during peak usage and peak charge periods.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said bioenergy represents a significant opportunity for the livestock processing sector to switch to renewable generation and reducing exposure to energy prices. “Bioenergy also has environmental benefits for being able to re-use the effluent rather than disposing of the waste,” he noted.

“This project is a fantastic example of waste-to-energy generation, and we are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with an excellent counterparty such as Southern Meats,” said ReNu Energy CEO Craig Ricato. “We also thank ARENA for its contribution to the project.”

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