International biogas experts are gathering in Toowoomba on Queensland’s Darling Downs later this month to share insights and experiences from around the world, and to visit one of Australia’s innovative biogas facilities at Oakey Beef Exports.

Australia is hosting the second 2016 meeting of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Task 37: Energy from Biogas in Toowoomba on November 17 to 18. IEA Task 37 is an international working group made up of 14 member countries which covers the anaerobic digestion of various biomass feedstocks.

Bioenergy Australia will be holding Australia’s leading Bioenergy event — its annual conference — in Brisbane earlier in the same week. The program will include a dedicated stream of presentations provided by a number of the Task 37 delegates. More details on the conference are available here.

The Task 37 meeting has been organised by University of Southern Queensland associate professor Bernadette McCabe, national task leader for the IEA Task 37, in conjunction with Task 37 leader professor Jerry Murphy, University College Cork, Ireland.

“Biogas technologies have evolved greatly over recent decades – expanding from waste treatment processes to facilitating technologies for smart energy systems,” Murphy said.

“There are now numerous biogas systems available to the biogas developer internationally, but challenges remain. The economics of biogas production must improve,” he said.

Research and development is central to maximise methane concentration in biogas which can be achieved through pre-treatment and/or codigestion, he said.

Bioenergy Australia is the vehicle for Australia’s participation in IEA Bioenergy, an international collaboration agreement in bioenergy involving 23 countries. Australia currently participates in five IEA Bioenergy Tasks.

As national task leader, Bernadette McCabe interacts with the national participation group organised by Bioenergy Australia. The group includes about 40 members from Australian industry, government and research institutions.

“Knowledge sharing between industry, the government and research institutions is key,” McCabe said.

“Creating energy from waste using biogas technology is a great idea – it’s a two-way win. There’s been a lot of interest in Australia over the past decade driven by increasing costs in electricity and fertiliser and waste disposal costs,” she said.

In November 2015 the CEFC announced a $100 million commitment to the Australian Bioenergy Fund to provide equity in addition to debt finance for bioenergy projects.

At a state level, the Queensland government released the Advance Queensland Biofutures 10-year road map and action plan in June this year.

The Queensland government is working in partnership with Queensland’s world-leading agriculture and waste industries and the research sector to grow the states emerging industrial biotechnology and by products sector.

IEA Task 37 seeks to promote the deployment of anaerobic digestion technology for renewable energy production and environmental protection, and the provision of expert scientific and technical support to policy makers in member countries.

The group meeting in Toowoomba will provide the opportunity for task member countries to exchange global best practice trends. This enables Australian biogas facilities to renew strategies and tools for operating efficient and lean processes.

“Australia’s membership in Task 37 is a very significant step forward in further developing the biogas market on a national scale,” McCabe said.

On Thursday November 17, delegates from Austria, Finland, Ireland, Norway, The Netherlands, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom will meet to discuss their projects.

At the conclusion of the meeting on Friday, the group will travel to Oakey Beef Exports to inspect the biogas plant which is burning methane generated by the abattoirs’ wastewater to supplement gas used to power boilers.

“Beef production is such an important industry to Queensland, and what Oakey Beef Exports is doing with biogas has generated a lot of interest from other processors and other states,” McCabe said.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to host IEA Task 37 members and show some international leaders in the biogas field how renewables are working here in regional Australia.”