New Zealand| Unlocking biomethane potential

July 12, 2021

Firstgas Group, Beca and Fonterra, and part-funded by the government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), produced the report “Biogas and Biomethane in NZ – Unlocking New Zealand’s Renewable Natural Gas Potential”.

The report’s conclusions are that biogas and biomethane are robust, well-developed technologies that can be readily deployed and utilised in New Zealand. This technology has a wide range of benefits; aside from providing low-emissions renewable energy, it reduces emissions from organic waste disposal and produces many valuable by-products.

Based on partners findings, enough readily-available organic waste exists in New Zealand today to produce 19 PJ of biogas. Some of this material is easier than other types of material to utilise effectively, but by 2050 partners expect that 13 PJ of biogas from anaerobic digestion could be converted into biomethane per year. This would replace over 7% of national natural gas consumption and reduce New Zealand’s gross greenhouse gas emissions by 2% over the total biomethane value chain. It is noted that these figures are positive, however there are still many steps to realising this biomethane potential.

It is highlighted in the report that realeasing his potential will require continued efforts from a number of stakeholders across industry and government to address and remove the key barriers highlighted by this study, as well as further detailed technical and financial analysis to determine the best installations on a case-by-case basis. As highlighted in this report, each individual biogas/biomethane installation has its own specific benefits and challenges which need to be carefully understood to ensure project success.

Another important next step for the implementation of this technology is an assessment of how the opportunity presented by biogas and biomethane fits into New Zealand’s energy transition to Zero Carbon by 2050. Biogas and biomethane, like many other alternative fuels and energy sources, cannot provide all of the answers to the challenge faced by New Zealand to adopt low emissions fuel sources. But by playing a role alongside other fuels, biogas and biomethane can provide part of the overall solution.

The recent Climate Change Commission Advice Report, highlights the need for an energy strategy including the range of low-emissions gases available for use in New Zealand. According to the authors of the report, this will be a great opportunity to assess and define the role of biogas and biomethane in future energy transition.

Read the full report here


Author: KS / Source: Firstgas Group / Photo: Unsplash