Optimal Group and BOC sign agreement on Australia’s first bioLNG facility in Tasmania

By Admin@Login11 February 2022

Optimal Group and BOC, a subsidiary of Linde plc, have today announced a Memorandum of Understanding agreement to jointly explore the development of Australia’s first bioLNG facility at the BOC Westbury micro-LNG Plant in Tasmania.

The agreement will allow the companies to investigate the potential of Optimal’s subsidiary, Optimal Renewable Gas (ORG), to build a $55 million, 2.4 terajoules per day waste-to-biogas plant adjacent to the existing Westbury micro-LNG plant. BioLNG is a biofuel made by processing organic waste flows.

BOC and its subsidiary Elgas supply LNG to industrial customers in Tasmania. The biogas plant would provide biomethane to BOC’s micro-LNG plant, which would then be processed into bioLNG and distributed to customers in agriculture, food processing and other industries.

As demand for renewable energy gathers pace, Optimal has recognised the need to provide commercial and industrial customers with a mechanism to achieve net zero carbon emissions from natural gas usage. With many industrial customers requiring up to 70% of their overall energy requirements for thermal processes, progressing the development of both renewable biogases and electricity is critical.

Optimal Group CEO, Craig Dugan, said: “We are delighted to have reached agreement on this MoU with BOC and Elgas. BioLNG provides a clear path for existing BOC and Elgas customers in Tasmania to reach net zero across their Tasmanian operations. This partnership will demonstrate the potential for biogas and bring forward companies’ transition to net zero.”

Optimal Renewable Gas has a pipeline of additional projects in Victoria, NSW and Queensland it is seeking to develop to add to its biogas portfolio.

“Our aim is to have 10 grid scale biogas projects with a mix of biogas to grid and biogas to LNG within 10 years,” Dugan said. “The secret to success in this field will be through speed and scale. Our customers are urgently seeking a solution to their thermal energy requirements and biogas offers them with a commercially and technically proven alternative whilst solving Australia’s need to divert putrescible general solid waste from landfill.”

Vesna Olles, BOC South Pacific Director of Strategy and Clean Energy, said the new agreement was part of BOC’s commitment to develop low carbon gas alternatives and provide pathways for customers to decarbonise thermal energy processes.

“BOC and Elgas are investing in new technologies, partnerships and research to progress the development of green hydrogen, green ammonia and biogases across Australia,” she said. “We are committed to working with government, industry and customers to accelerate the transition to net zero emissions and address the key themes outlined in the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) Bioenergy Roadmap. We believe biogases will be a key part of Australia’s future energy mix particularly for hard-to-abate sectors.

“We look forward to working with Optimal Group to explore the opportunity for transitioning BOC’s Westbury micro-LNG plant to bioLNG and working together nationally to develop further opportunities to produce biogases.”

Birds eye view of farming equipment in a crop field

Optimal Group Australia has a strong track record in biogas with several projects underway and completed. The ground-breaking renewable energy project for McCain’s Foods saw Optimal chosen by McCain’s to design, supply and install a 1.2 MW Biogas Power Generation System using by biogas from a newly installed anaerobic digester, a process where bacteria break down organic matter. The Capstone MicroTurbines deliver 1.2 MW of 100% renewable electricity, while also reducing the use of natural gas from the existing 25 MW steam boiler by capturing the turbine exhausts to provide hot combustion air to the boiler.

“The McCain’s Project is a clear example of how biogas can assist to significantly reduce a customer’s carbon emissions. In fact, if we had additional waste available at McCain’s we could generate enough biogas on site to meet all of the gas requirements of their boiler,” Dugan said.

The announcement of this MoU follows Optimal’s earlier announcement of the appointment of Dr John Hewson as Chair of Optimal Renewable Gas.

Dr Hewson said biogas can help governments address Australia’s growing waste disposal problems while producing a valuable renewable fuel.

“With the Morrison Government’s recent release of ARENA’s Bioenergy Roadmap, the signing of the Optimal and BOC/Elgas MoU could not have come at a better time. The Government recognises biogas technology is well proven in Europe and North America. Putrescible waste is diverted from landfill, sorted and processed through anaerobic digesters to produce biomethane. The byproducts include fertiliser, biomethane and bio carbon dioxide,” he said.

“Optimal and its partners believe biogas will play a significant role in greening our gas grids, providing a path to net zero for many existing gas users. The planned $300 million, 10 plant ORG plan will not only create green renewable gas, it will create economic growth in the construction and operation of the plants. I’m excited to be part of this important project.”