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EcoGas receives Provincial Growth Fund support for NZ biogas pilot

In Zealand, EcoGas LP, a joint venture established by Pioneer Energy Ltd and EcoStock Supplies Ltd to develop, build and operate domestic anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities, has announced that it has received a NZ$7 million (≈ EUR 4.02 million) boost from the Government's Provincial Growth Fund towards a demonstration plant in Reporoa on the North Island. Using household food waste, the biogas plant will power a greenhouse operated by fruit and vegetable major T&G Global Ltd.

Food scrap collection at a lunch restaurant in Skellefteå, Sweden, where the city has separate collection and processing of organic waste to produce biomethane which is then used as fuel to run the city buses. The plastic bag used is bio-based.

The food waste will be collected from central North Island households and used as feedstock in the anaerobic digestion (AD) demonstration plant to produce biogas. The biogas will be used to provide heat, power, and carbon dioxide (CO2) for the greenhouse while the digestate will be used as a biofertilizer.

We waste at least 327 000 tonnes of food in New Zealand each year, making up about 30 percent of our landfill. As the waste food breaks down, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG). But this new project will instead capture that biogas and turn it into useful renewable energy. Even better, the CO2 that would have gone into the atmosphere helps grow the produce, said EcoGas spokesperson Stuart Walker.

EcoGas have plans for more AD facilities like at Reporoa around the country.

In the next two or three years, when we are at full scale at Reporoa, we have estimated to be able to treat around 75 000 tonnes of organic food waste from both households and industrial sources. We see the potential for up to 21 of these sites throughout New Zealand over the next five to 10 years, said Stuart Walker.

The announcement that EcoGas will collect central North Island food waste and process them at Reporoa into energy and biofertilizer will provide an example that all communities across New Zealand could follow said the Bioenergy Association of New Zealand.

The production of biogas from the waste will allow the generation of electricity, provide hot house heating, produce high-value biofertilizer, and provide carbon dioxide for enhanced plant growth in the hothouses. These are valuable products that will reduce T & G Global’s horticulture operating costs and increase productivity. This is on top of the avoided cost of disposing of organic wastes from the site, as well as those communities who have contracted to supply organic waste instead of disposing of it into landfills., commented Brian Cox, Executive Officer of the Bioenergy Association of New Zealand.

The Bioenergy Association has identified that 1.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gases could be reduced if this type of project was extended to other food processors and communities.

It is great that the Government has recognized that using organic waste to produce energy and other co-products is good for business and communities and that proactive climate change policies can have a very positive upside to communities and the economy. The EcoGas processing of food waste uses proven technologies and is widely done in most other countries. New Zealand has been slow to adopt circular economy principles where food wastes are processed to make other products rather than discharge to landfill. There is no reason why all communities across New Zealand could not have zero organic waste going to landfill by 2030, ended Brian Cox.

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