APA Group Receives Funding to Test Methane in Australia’s Gas Pipelines

(P&GJ) — APA Group has announced $1.1 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) towards its renewable methane pilot project to be developed with partner Southern Green Gas. 

Photo: Australian Renewable Energy Agency

APA Group (APA) will build a modular renewable methane production demonstration plant at their Wallumbilla Gas hub near Roma in Queensland.

The goal of APA Renewable Methane Demonstration Project is that renewable methane may provide a replacement to natural gas for transmission and storage in existing pipelines across Australia.

This demonstration plant will provide proof of concept that hydrogen can be produced from solar energy and water, and then converted to methane using CO2 extracted from the air.

The APA Renewable Methane Demonstration Project aims to demonstrate the technical and commercial benefits of a 5kW integrated electrolysis and renewable methane production system.

The renewable methane process involves the production of renewable hydrogen from an Anion Exchange Membrane (AEM) electrolyzer. The electrolyzer uses water extracted from the atmosphere and is powered by solar PV. The hydrogen produced is then converted to methane by reaction with carbon dioxide, which is also extracted directly from the atmosphere. 

The system incorporates hydrogen storage, to allow production of renewable methane on a continuous basis. The water is recirculated back to the electrolyzer, with water for electrolysis extracted from the atmosphere.

The ‘power to gas’ demonstration plant will produce approximately 620kg of hydrogen per year, converting it into 74 gigajoules of methane that can then be injected into APA’s natural gas pipelines across the East Coast Gas Grid.

The project will also generate cost and technical data to be used to assess the feasibility of a larger, commercial scale renewable methane concept system. 

The project partners aim to be first to market with exportable renewable energy.

“ARENA’s support means we can work to understand the costs and benefits of generating renewable methane for use in the existing East Coast Gas Grid,” said APA Group CEO and Managing Director Rob Wheals.

Over the past decade, APA has invested over $750 million in renewable energy projects around Australia, providing 490 megawatts of electricity generation capacity.

In the future, the integration of fuel supplies such as renewable methane into existing gas pipeline systems could make a significant contribution to reducing the carbon content of energy used to heat homes, buildings and fuel transportation.

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