Optimal Group, Katunga Fresh And Booth Transport Sign Agreement To Focus On Development Of Grid Scale Biomethane To Grid Project

Optimal Group, Katunga Fresh and Booth Transport have today announced a Memorandum of Understanding agreement to jointly explore the development of a biogas to grid project at Katunga in North-East Victoria. The agreement will allow the companies to investigate the potential of Optimal’s subsidiary, Optimal Renewable Gas (ORG) to build a $25 million, 1.2 TJ/day waste to biogas plant in Katunga. 

The biogas plant would provide biomethane to Katunga Fresh, one of Australia’s largest producers of hot house tomatoes, as well as inject biomethane into the local natural gas network to be sold to customers as a renewable alternative to fossil fuel natural gas.

As demand for renewable energy gathers pace, Optimal has recognised the need to provide commercial and industrial customers with a mechanism to achieve net zero carbon emissions from gas. With many industrial customers requiring up to 70% of their overall energy requirements for thermal processes, progressing the development of both renewable gas and power is critical.

Optimal will provide Renewable Gas, which will in turn fuel net zero power, heat and CO2 for plant fertigation at the Katunga Fresh facility, as well as inject renewable bio-methane into the gas network.  

In announcing the MoU, Optimal CEO Craig Dugan said” We are delighted to have reached agreement on this MoU with Katunga Fresh and Booth Transport. This adds to our existing agreement with BOC and Elgas to produce BioLNG at Westbury in Tasmania and provides a strengthening in the volumes of renewable gas we can offer existing customers in Tasmania and pipeline gas users on the East Coast. These partnerships will demonstrate the potential for biogas and bring forward companies 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 a commercially and technically proven alternative, whilst solving Australia’s need to divert putrescible waste from landfill.”

Peter Van Den Goor, CEO of Katunga Fresh said, “Katunga Fresh are delighted to be able to partner with Optimal and Booth’s on this project. We have been exploring biofuels for several years and are excited to reach this agreement with Optimal and Booth. It’s a win-win for Katunga Fresh, we will secure a long-term renewable gas supply agreement while partnering in the commercialisation of biogas to the gas grid.”  

“BOC and Elgas are investing in new technologies, partnerships and research to progress the development of green Mitchell Booth added, “Booth Transport have already invested in our own waste disposal facility, including worm farms and a small-scale anaerobic digester. To be able to bring our substantial fleet resources to this venture allows us to substantially grow our services to our customers to provide them with a truly renewable solution to their waste streams. Waste to energy must be a major part of our moving to net zero, and we are excited to be a part of it.”

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 “BOC and Optimal’s earlier announcement in November 2021 of the appointment of their $55 million Westbury Tasmania bioLNG MoU.

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 ARENA’s Bioenergy Roadmap, the signing of the Optimal, BOC/Elgas and now Katunga Fresh and Booth Transport MoU’s 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 biomethane. 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, providing a path to net zero for many existing gas users. The planned $300 million, ten plant ORG Plan will create green renewable gas, and we are now well on the way to achieving our objectives. I’m excited to be part of this exciting new venture,” concluded Dr Hewson.