The demonstration plant is being developed by APA Group in partnership with Southern Green Gas


APA partners with Southern Green Gas to build methane demonstration plant. (Credit: Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay)

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced A$1.1m ($0.71m) in funding to APA Group (APA) to fund the construction of renewable methane production demonstration plant in Queensland.

Planned to be built at APA’s Wallumbilla Gas hub near Roma, the A$2.2m ($1.42m) project aims to demonstrate the renewable methane process. It is being developed by APA in partnership with Southern Green Gas.

APA Group CEO and managing director Rob Wheals said: “This unique project is the first step in testing whether it is possible on an industrial scale to create methane, using solar-generated electricity, water and CO2 from the atmosphere.

“With this project we’re aiming to determine whether this carbon neutral process might be part of the green energy solution of the future, and if our pipelines can be used to transport pure renewable energy domestically or to be exported.”

The ‘power to gas’ demonstration plant will have the capacity to produce approximately 620kg of renewable hydrogen per year from an Anion Exchange Membrane (AEM) electrolyser, which uses water extracted from the atmosphere and powered by solar PV.

The plant will convert the produced renewable hydrogen into 74 gigajoules of methane, which will be injected into APA’s natural gas pipelines across the East Coast Gas Grid.

Demonstration plant to assess feasibility of commercial scale renewable methane plant

APA will use the cost and technical data generated by the demonstration plant to assess the feasibility of a larger, commercial-scale, renewable methane plant.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “Renewable methane is in effect indistinguishable from the methane that currently fills our natural gas pipelines. The gas network is expected to play a key role in supporting the decarbonisation of Australia’s energy system.

“Renewable methane is compatible with Australia’s developing hydrogen sector in that known technologies can convert methane to hydrogen and vice versa.”

Last year, ARENA has approved up to £5.2m funding to Hazer Group for the construction and operation of an advanced hydrogen production facility in Munster, Western Australia.