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ARENA co-funded project enables NSW abattoir to convert waste into energy

A Goulburn, New South Wales (NSW) abattoir has teamed up with a Queensland (QLD) energy provider to turn its waste into energy, thanks to funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). On behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA last year provided AU$2.1 million in funding to ReNu Energy Ltd to design, construct, own and operate a biogas facility at Southern Meats’ existing abattoir facility.

Anaerobic digester (AD) and flare of the recently commissioned Goulburn Bioenergy Project (photo courtesy ReNu Energy).

The Goulburn abattoir processes sheep and lambs, using around 20 000 kWh of electricity every day. The AU$5.75 million project, which began commercial operations in February, consists of an anaerobic digestion (AD) 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 3 800 MWh of electricity per year for use during the manufacturing process to reduce peak electricity consumption.

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, said Ivor Frischknecht, CEO, ARENA.

The generators are able to supplement biogas with natural gas, allowing the plant to minimise the use of electricity from the grid during peak usage and peak charge periods.

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. We also thank ARENA for its contribution to the project. ARENA plays an extremely important role in assisting companies to demonstrate and commercialise renewable technologies such as anaerobic digestion. ReNu Energy sees great potential in the Australian bioenergy market, in both the agribusiness, food processing and municipal waste sectors. We look forward to continuing to apply the knowledge and IP that we have in the construction and operation of anaerobic digestion projects, as we grow our portfolio over the coming years, said Craig Ricato, CEO, ReNu Energy.

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