Optimal Group And Boc Sign Agreement To Focus On Development Of Australia’s First Biolng Facility

Optimal Group and BOC/Elgas, a subsidiary of Linde plc have announced the agreement under a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly explore the development of Australia’s first bioLNG facility at the BOC-ELGAS Westbury LNG Plant in Tasmania. The agreement will allow the companies to investigate the potential of Optimal’s subsidiary, Optimal Renewable Gas (ORG) to build a $55 million, 2.4 TJ/day waste to biogas plant adjacent to the existing Westbury LNG plant.  

BOC and its subsidiary Elgas supply LNG to industrial customers in Tasmania. The biogas plant would provide biomethane to BOC’s micro-LNG plant, which would then be processed into bioLNG and distributed to customers in agriculture, food processing and other industries.  

As demand for renewable energy gathers pace, Optimal has recognised the need to provide commercial and industrial customers with a mechanism to eliminate the carbon emissions from their natural gas usage in their operations. With many industrial customers requiring up to 70% of their overall energy requirements for thermal processes, green grid electricity alone cannot deliver net zero to these customers.  

A biogas waste to energy plant, credit: Claudia Harms-Warlies, Shutterstock 

On announcing the MoU Optimal CEO, Craig Dugan, said,” We are delighted to have reached agreement on this MoU with ELGAS and BOC. BioLNG provides an immediate path for existing ELGAS and BOC customers in Tasmania to reach net zero. With 100% of Tasmania’s grid power being renewable, customers can now also convert their gas supply to 100% renewable. This provides a clear demonstration of the potential for biogas to bring forward companies ambitions in their transition to net zero.” 

Optimal Renewable Gas has a pipeline of additional projects in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland it is seeking to develop to add to its biogas portfolio. 

“Our aim is to have ten grid scale biogas projects with a mix of Biogas to grid and Biogas to LNG within ten years.” Mr Dugan added, “The secret to success in this field will be through speed and scale. Our customers are urgently seeking a solution to their thermal energy requirements and biogas offers them with a commercially and technically proven alternative whilst solving Australia’s need to divert putrescible waste from landfill. Working with ELGAS and BOC at Westbury provides the perfect platform to launch our renewable gas business as well as providing further opportunities at other ELGAS and BOC LNG plants in Australia.”  

Vesna Olles, BOC South Pacific Director of Strategy and Clean Energy, said the new agreement was part of BOC’s commitment to develop low carbon gas alternatives and provide pathways for customers to decarbonise thermal energy processes.  

“BOC and Elgas are investing in new technologies, partnerships and research to progress the development of green hydrogen, green ammonia and biogases across Australia.  

“We are committed to working with government, industry and customers to accelerate the transition to net zero emissions and we believe biogases will be a key part of Australia’s future energy mix as we seek to provide renewable gas options for customers.”  

“We look forward to working with Optimal Group to explore the opportunity for transitioning BOC’s Westbury Micro-LNG plant to BioLNG and working together nationally to develop further opportunities to produce biogases.”  

Optimal Group Australia has a strong track record in biogas with several projects underway and completed. The ground-breaking renewable energy project for McCain’s Foods Ballarat facility has seen Optimal chosen by McCain’s to design, supply and install a 1.2 MW Biogas Power Generation System using biogas from a newly installed anaerobic digester. The Capstone MicroTurbines deliver 1.2 MW of 100% renewable electricity, while also reducing the use of natural gas from the existing 25 MW steam boiler by capturing the turbine exhausts to provide hot combustion air. Mr Dugan: “The McCain's Project is a clear example of how biogas can assist to significantly reduce a customer’s carbon emissions. In fact, if we had additional waste available at McCain’s we could generate enough biogas on site to meet all of the gas requirements of their boiler.” 

The announcement of this MoU follows Optimal’s earlier announcement in September 2020 of the appointment of Dr John Hewson as Chair of Optimal Renewable Gas.  

Dr John Hewson, AM
Dr John Hewson, Optimal Group’s Chair said biogas can help governments address Australia’s growing waste disposal problems while producing a valuable renewable fuel.  

“With the Morrison Government’s recent release of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) Bioenergy Roadmap, the signing of the Optimal and BOC/Elgas MoU could not have come at a better time,” said Dr Hewson.  “The Government recognises Biogas technology is well proven in Europe and North America. Putrescible waste is diverted from landfill, sorted and processed through Anaerobic Digesters to produce bio-methane. 

The by-products include fertiliser, biomethane and bio carbon dioxide. Optimal and its partners believe biogas will play a significant role in greening our gas grids and provide a path to net zero for many existing gas users. The planned $300 million, ten plant ORG program will not only create green renewable gas, it will create economic growth in the construction and operation of the plants. I’m excited to be part of this important project,” concluded Dr Hewson.