Australia launches bioenergy program to aid pork industry

By Anna Simet | May 29, 2012

The Australian Pork Cooperative Research Center has launched a program that will focus on maximizing the value of captured pork industry emissions.

The Pork CRC Bioenergy Support Program will prioritize the production, capture and use of methane from piggery effluent treated in covered anaerobic lagoons, and will involve research to maximize methane production from effluent ponds so that gas collection and use can be made more economically viable.

According to Australian Pork Ltd., the producer-owned support and promotion organization, more than 90 percent of Australia’s pork production already utilizes ponds to manage effluent, providing a significant opportunity for the industry to capture emissions for mitigation or utilization.

Though Australia faces challenges in regard to biogas technology, which includes long distances and issues with biosecurity, feedstocks, restrictive policies and standards and relatively high labor and component costs, according to the Pork CRC, interest is accelerating due to lower cost technologies, rising energy costs and the introduction of the Carbon Farming Initiative and carbon tax.

The Carbon Farming Initiative was passed by Australian Parliament in August 2011, and allows farmers and land managers to earn carbon credits by storing carbon or reducing greenhouse gas emissions on the land.  The carbon tax is set to take effect July 1, and requires polluters that generate over 25,000 metric tons of carbon per year to pay for each metric ton until 2015, when it will roll into a trading system to allow the market set the cost.

The new program will provide independent advice on low-cost biogas options, details of suppliers, independent reviews of feasibility assessments, information on available funding and much more, the Pork CRC said.

 The program will be headed by Stephan Tait, an engineer chartered with the Institution of Chemical Engineers and a research fellow at the Advanced Water Management Centre at the University of Queensland.