The AUS$5.75 million (m) bioenergy facility is part of an abattoir that processes 4,000 sheep every day, using up to 20,000 kWh of electricity on a daily basis, which creates a monthly power bill in excess of AUS$100,000.
The project was supported with AUS$2.1m of funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). This was used to help design, construct, own and operate a biogas facility. Construction on the facility began in June 2017.
The site works through 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.
The 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 chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said bioenergy represented “a significant opportunity for the livestock processing sector to switch to renewable generation and reduce exposure to energy prices”.
“Bioenergy also has environmental benefits for being able to reuse the effluent rather than disposing of the waste,” he said.
ReNu Energy CEO Craig Ricato said: “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,” he added. “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.”