Biogas plant fuels Oakey abattoir expansion
THE big bubble on the Warrego Hwy past Oakey has helped one of the region's largest employers reduce its carbon footprint, cut costs and fuel expansion plans.
The Oakey Beef Exports Biogas Plant was officially opened today after a rigorous 13-month building stage.
General manager Pat Gleeson said the new technology was the first of its kind in Australia and cut greenhouse gas emissions, improve water quality and reduce odour omissions from the abattoir.
The anaerobic lagoon captures gas produced from the abattoir, refines it onsite and extracts the water which is then used for irrigation onsite.
It's part of the $100 million parent company Nippon Ham has invested in the facility since it took ownership in 1987.
"Our parent company Nippon Ham is pleased to have undertaken another innovative project that again demonstrates their continued commitment to business sustainability, the industry, our employees, the community and the environment," Mr Gleeson said.
"We are confident that we will be able to produce 183.3 gigajoules of energy per day through the combustion of methane.
"This represents 40 per cent of our current usage of natural gas and will represent a direct saving of natural gas."
The project will repay itself within five years when Oakey Beef Exports moves to a seven-day production schedule.
Annual production will also increase from 298,000 cattle to more than 560,000.
"We envisage an increase of employee numbers from 750 staff to a possible 1400, with the expansion benefiting the whole meat industry, as well as community stakeholders and the people of Queensland," he said.
Mr Ham said the increase in production proved the need for the revitalisation of the western rail lines to towns such as Quilpie, Charleville, Morven and Roma, removing cattle trucks from the road and easing up supply chain processes.
Federal Industry and Science Minister Ian Macfarlane described the biogas plant as a poster-child for green innovative businesses, and commended the private investment in the technology.
He said the company had applied for funding assistance to complete the project under the Gillard government but was scrapped once the Abbot Government took office in 2013.
"The project has been built without a dollar of taxpayer money and it is going to have a massive positive effect in terms of emissions, the use of renewable energy instead of natural gas and fossil fuels," Mr Macfarlane said.
"It's great to see the company take on the responsibility itself, not asking for a government handout and just going in and doing it."