A $16 million project could see up to 6,300 homes powered by renewable biomethane produced from wastewater in an Australian first trial.

Sydney Water’s Malabar Wastewater Resource Recovery Plant will see wastewater converted into carbon-neutral gas for use across New South Wales.

The Malabar Biomethane project, co-funded by the energy infrastructure company Jemena and the Federal Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), will be the first in Australia to blend biomethane directly into the gas network, with the aim to start production by the end of 2022. 

The project will have an initial capacity of 95 TJ of gas per year, which is enough gas to meet the needs of approximately 6,300 homes.

Jemena estimates this number could scale up to 200TJ per annum – which is enough gas to meet the needs of 13,300 homes.

State Minister for Lands and Water, Kevin Anderson, said the commencement of these works at Sydney Water’s Malabar facility is an exciting and significant milestone that will deliver reliable and cleaner gas to Sydneysiders and help to reduce the carbon footprint of households.

“The Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility will create approximately 95,000 gigajoules of biomethane, from organic material in wastewater, to supply gas to around 6,300 homes by the end of the year, with the capacity to double production by 2030,” Mr Anderson said.

“This five year pilot will put gas directly into the supply network and will also help industries across NSW meet their net-zero emissions targets, with the facility able to turn waste material into a new clean energy source.”

Jemena’s General Manager Renewable Gas, Peter Harcus, said biomethane has the potential to play a huge role in meeting Australia’s net-zero emissions targets.

“This project will start to allow Sydney households to keep using gas, while also reducing their carbon footprint,” said Mr Harcus.

“For our commercial and industrial customers – whose manufacturing processes are difficult to decarbonise – this project will help enable them to maintain their operations, keep people in jobs, and help to decarbonise their supply chain.”

The Malabar Biomethane project is expected to remove 5,000 tonnes of carbon, and potentially 11,000 tonnes if scaled up to its full potential. 

According to ARENA’s Bioenergy Roadmap by 2030, the bioenergy sector will not only enhance Australia’s fuel security but also contribute to around $10 billion in extra GDP per annum, create 26,200 new jobs, reduce emissions by about nine per cent and divert an extra six per cent of waste from landfill.

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