Biogas boost for pork
Australia's pork industry has embraced the benefits of on-farm biogas energy.
According to CRC for High Integrity Australian Pork 'Carbon conscious nutrient inputs and outputs' Program leader Rob Wilson, biogas energy suits the Australian pork industry because pork manure offers a high yield to biogas and significant heat is needed on-farm at piggeries.
Biogas is being used at Australian piggeries for direct heating via hot water, or for combined heat and power, with on-site use and/or grid exports of excess power.
About 8 per cent of Australia's national pork production is harvesting biogas, with a further 2 per cent or so under construction and 10 per cent in various stages of planning and development. More than 30 per cent is likely to be using biogas energy by 2020.
According to Dr Wilson, the most popular biogas systems have been unheated conventional covered lagoons because of their relatively low cost, simplicity and low operator input requirements.
"Also, space is not so restricted, with piggeries highly dispersed and our prevailing warm climate leading to relatively modest seasonal fluctuations in biogas flow," he said.
To drive biogas uptake at Australian and New Zealand piggeries, Pork CRC funds the Bioenergy Support Program (BSP), led by Dr Stephan Tait at the Advanced Water Management Centre, University of Queensland.
The BSP promotes biogas energy, supports pork producers with site-based biogas feasibility assessments, provides technical information and resources to streamline adoption based on case study data from demonstration sites, and identifies and promotes targeted research to further benefit the pork industry.
Adoption of biogas has been shown to be economically feasible at many sites, with a significant positive return on investment over 10 years.
Dr Wilson said life cycle assessments of Australian pork supply chains suggested the majority of greenhouse gas emissions for production are methane emissions from effluent treatment, and capturing and using biogas on-site could reduce on-farm emissions by as much as 60 to 80 per cent.
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