Powerco announces renewable natural gas development initiatives

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Powerco has announced two initiatives to investigate using biogas in its network to help customers to decarbonise.
The initiatives with Manawatū District Council and Midwest Disposals will see the gas and electricity distributor explore the upgrading of the landfill gas and biogas produced at two sites to renewable natural gas. 

Over the next 12 months the team will be working to conduct technical analysis and engineering design to understand the upgrading plant and transport methods required to bring the biogas to pipeline specification and inject into the network. 

General Manager, Gas, Don Elers says he’s excited by the potential biogas has to bring together the energy, agricultural and manufacturing and waste sectors to create tangible environmental and economic benefits for Aotearoa New Zealand.

“These initiatives are part of Powerco’s commitment to use renewable natural gas in its networks in the future,” says Don.

“The opportunity to capture and use biogas has a host of environmental benefits including reducing New Zealand’s emissions from organic waste and the use of natural gas, reducing the amount of waste going to landfill, and creating a sustainable alternative to natural gas.”

Powerco recently co-commissioned a report with Clarus and Ecogas on the potential to capture and use biogas in New Zealand. 
That report found that New Zealand has the potential to produce 23.4PJ of biogas a year, which is more than enough to meet residential demand. 
Once biogas is processed into renewable natural gas, it is almost chemically identical to natural gas, so can be used in existing gas infrastructure and customer appliances. 

More information and a copy of the report is available on the Powerco website here: the potential for biogas in Aotearoa


First steps

Renewable Gas Manager David Hendry says he can’t wait to get started.

“These initiatives are the first tangible steps we’ve taken to explore how to produce and introduce renewable natural gas into the Powerco gas network, and we’ll be developing our capability in this area over the next year in collaboration with Manawatū District Council and Midwest Disposals,” he says.

“We’ll be working with Manawatū District Council at their Fielding wastewater treatment plant and Midwest Disposals at their landfill. That will enable us to look at how renewable natural gas can be efficiently produced across different types of feedstock.” 

The Council’s General Manager of Infrastructure, Hamish Waugh says he looks forward to working with Powerco.

“We see Powerco as a key partner to work with in terms of the biogas the treatment plant produces. If we can work with Powerco to reduce the environmental impact of that, then everyone wins as a result.”

David says he looks forward to exploring more initiatives like this in the future.

“Our gas network covers much of the North Island’s major industrial and agricultural centres – in Taranaki, Manawatū and Horowhenua, Hawke’s Bay and Wellington. That’s why Powerco is well-aligned to leverage these types of opportunities. We’re keen to explore more renewable natural gas development options like these across our gas footprint.”


A future for gas

Don Elers says developing alternatives to natural gas through initiatives like this is an important part of enabling New Zealand’s sustainable energy transition.

“We’re committed to enabling New Zealand’s net-zero by 2050 goal. Natural gas will continue to be a critical part of the energy mix, providing reliable and affordable supply to customers while we increase renewable electricity generation, and work on sustainable alternatives like renewable natural gas – so we can provide customers with lower carbon gas options in the future.”


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