Going green seemed a logical step for family-owned Australian garden products supplier Richgro. In the family for three generations and nearly 100 years, the company has seen many changes but perhaps none were as significant as its move to harness ground-breaking waste-to-energy technology and meet its power needs by recycling organic waste.
The company is establishing a biogas project at Jandakot in Western Australia with the capacity to process 35,000 tonnes a year of commercial and industrial organic waste and divert if from landfill. The anaerobic digestion plant is expected to produce enough power for the site, and its by-product will be used as a raw material in Richgro’s garden products.
Anaerobic digestion involves the breaking down of organic waste bio-methanogens to produce biogas comprised of roughly 65 per cent methane, with the remainder mostly CO2 and some hydrogen sulphide.
Green wastes used to fuel the process can include any organic byproduct from an industrial process, including garden waste, food waste, and waste from dairies, piggeries and poultry manure.
“Quality, passion and environmental preservation are our main driving forces, which is why we’re very excited about this technology that will help us improve productivity, improve our business bottom line and make a difference to the environment,” said Richgro managing director Geoff Richards.
Low Carbon Australia will provide financing for the plant, which is expected to be operational by June 2013 and have a capacity of up to 2 megawatts.
Low Carbon Australia CEO Meg McDonald said waste-to-energy has a proven track record in Europe.
“We’re very excited by the potential of biogas capture to allow Australian businesses to significantly reduce their energy costs while achieving significant carbon abatement,” she said. “There’s considerable scope for biogas projects in Australia with our own research indicating that the intensive agriculture and meat processing industries could offer significant opportunities for cost effective carbon abatement.”
Biogass Renewables, which is installing the plant, will integrate the latest European and British technology, which will be designed to suit Australian conditions.
Low Carbon Australia is financing two-thirds of the project cost, and a grant under the Australian Government’s Clean Technology Investment Program will cover the remainder.
The Clean Technology Investment Program provides $800 million over seven years (until 2017-18) while the Clean Technology Food and Foundries Investment Program provides $200 million over six years (until 2016-17) and is dedicated specifically to food and foundry manufacturers.
Since commencing operations, Low Carbon Australia has contracted investments in excess of $50 million, generating a flow of new financing and markets making available more than $200 million in new finance for energy efficiency in the marketplace.