Jemena, Sydney Water to commence Australian first biomethane trial for NSW gas network


Energy infrastructure company Jemena has partnered with Sydney Water to deliver Australia’s first biomethane-to-gas project that will bring renewable gas for cooking, heating and hot water to thousands of New South Wales homes and businesses.

The $14 million demonstration scale project, which is backed by the Federal and the NSW governments, will generate biomethane at the Malabar Wastewater Treatment Plant and inject it into Jemena’s existing gas distribution network.

Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said that in addition to delivering reliable and cleaner gas to Sydneysiders, the project would also reduce carbon emissions by as much as 5,000 tonnes each year – the equivalent of taking 1,900 cars off the road.

“The Commonwealth Government is committed to partnering with industry and supporting projects that drive the gas-led recovery from the COVID-19 recession, which is why we are backing this exciting, innovative project,” Minister Taylor continued.

“This project demonstrates the importance of our existing gas infrastructure for the roll-out of new energy technologies. Our gas pipelines provide the essential foundation needed so customers can access renewable gas and hydrogen.

“Gas is not a competitor for renewables, it is complementary. We will continue to take practical action to reduce emissions, while strengthening the economy and supporting jobs that rely on affordable, reliable energy.”

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which is providing $5.9 million in funding to Jemena on behalf of the Federal Government, said this first of its kind project would show how biomethane could help to supplement domestic gas supplies and decarbonise the gas network.

“The injection of biomethane into the natural gas network is currently unproven in Australia due to a range of technical, regulatory and commercial factors,” said ARENA CEO Darren Miller.

“Displacing natural gas with biomethane and renewable hydrogen is recognised as the likely pathway to decarbonise natural gas networks.

“With a successful demonstration by Jemena, we could see biomethane use increasing across the country.”

According to Jemena, there are more than 30,000 TJs of potential biogas in the vicinity of the NSW gas pipelines, enough to supply 1.4 million households in NSW.

The company’s Executive General Manager Gas Distribution, Dr Jennifer Purdie said the project will see Sydney Water initially supply 95 terajoules (TJs) per year of zero emission biomethane before scaling up to 200 TJs annually; equivalent to the gas demand of approximately 13,300 homes.

“This agreement will see biomethane injected into the gas network for the first time in Australia with an initial capacity of 95 terajoules of renewable green gas per year, which is enough to meet the gas demand of approximately 6,300 homes,” Dr Purdie said.

“This has the potential to be scaled up to 200 terajoules per year, enough to meet the gas demand of around 13,300 homes.”

The Malabar plant is expected to supply Biomethane to the network by early 2022, with the project to generate eight full-time jobs to support ongoing operations.

Image credit: Jemena Twitter account