Once again, from the renewable gas space, we have a first-person account from James Irvine, GM of Future Fuels at Firstgas Group. James was fortunate to join the GasNZ & Bioenergy Australia tour of renewable gas projects, travelling across 5 Australian states in 5 days. He shares some of his insights about the projects he visited that spanned a variety of renewable technologies, scale and businesses.
In late April 2023, I was excited to join other representatives from a broad range of gas-related organisations on the tour, aimed at elevating the profile of renewable gas and showing the potential that similar projects could have in New Zealand.
Day one took us to the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group’s pioneering Hydrogen Park South Australia who are blending renewable hydrogen into the natural gas network to approximately 3700 homes & businesses in the Adelaide area.
We also visited LMS Energy’s landfill gas project that is capturing and utilising gas from a 30 year old landfill near Adelaide, further boosted by gas from a co-located anaerobic digester using organic material diverted from landfill.
Day two brought to light the enormous and largely untapped potential of biogas. First up was a visit to Yarra Valley Water’s REWaste plant in Melbourne, an anaerobic digestor facility turning organic waste into energy; following that, a visit to Melbourne Water’s massive Eastern Treatment Plant. AGIG presented on the potential to upgrade that gas and put it in to the gas network to decarbonise the gas supply of thousands of homes and businesses. As an aside, New Zealand is on the same path with Firstgas Group building a state-of-the-art plant to upgrade Ecogas’ biogas into renewable gas to inject into the gas network – on track for deployment by Q2 2024.
Day three – We travelled from Canberra to Orange and saw two great examples of smaller scale ‘behind the meter’ renewable projects as innovative companies use organic waste to meet some of their energy needs and reduce their environmental footprint.
And finally on day four, the final day of the Australia renewable gas tour, we visited some more inspiring renewable gas initiatives in Queensland.
Brisbane boasts a brand new state-of-the-art facility to train gas fitters in hydrogen, as they prepare the workforce for a renewable gas future.
Nearby, Logan City Water have built a pioneering project which is using the gas released from organic waste to produce biochar which is a rich fertiliser, putting carbon back in the soil in a carbon negative process.
It was an inspiring trip and I’ll be taking some of the deep insights from this trip to help drive forward Firstgas Group’s renewable gas ambitions for New Zealand.