Can POME methane be fed into Gas Malaysia pipeline?

Quite a bit have been written about burning biomass to generate electricity. Today, let's explore a little bit on the potentials of biogas or more specifically, methane.

Palm oil millers are encouraged to capture methane from palm oil mill effluent (POME) to reduce air pollution. In turning this dirty gas into clean energy, palm oil millers running biogas plants have two theoretical choices:-

1. Methane is converted into electricity and fed into the power grid, owned by Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB).

or

2. Methane can be injected into the national gas pipeline, owned by Gas Malaysia Sdn Bhd.





Right now, TNB has feed-in tariffs for 'green' electricity. Gas Malaysia, however, do not. The sole supplier of natural gas into the national pipeline is Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) and the co-owners of Gas Malaysia are MMC-Shapadu Holdings, Tokyo Gas - Mitsui Holdings and Petronas Gas Bhd.

In Peninsular Malaysia, there is enough electricity in TNB's grid but a shortage of natural gas in Gas Malaysia's pipeline for manufacturers like oleochemical producers, rubber glovemakers, ceramics manufacturers and steel millers.

1. Should Gas Malaysia's pipeline be open up to allow feed-in of methane captured from POME?
2. Are all owners of Gas Malaysia willing to buy 'green' gas from palm oil millers? If so, at what price?

It is said that gas is a better long-distance energy carrier than electricity. Storage of methane and transportation is much cheaper and easier than electricity. Natural gas pipelines cost half as much to build as electric towers and only experience one fourth as much transmission loss.


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5 per cent more gas for manufacturers

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is re-allocating 100 million standard cu ft per day (mmscfd) from independent power producers (IPPs) to the gas-hungry manufacturing sector. Gas supply shortage has been a major grouse among some industries since 2008.

Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Mida) director-general Datuk Jalilah Baba said natural gas was in short supply while there was a growing demand from new manufacturers.

“Oleochemical and food industries would be given priority in considering the distribution, as these industries need gas for industrial processing,” she said, adding Mida was entrusted by the government to distribute the natural gas based on the companies’ needs.

She was speaking to reporters after Mida released its report on the performance of the manufacturing and services sectors 2009 here today. Also present was International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

State power firm TNB and independent power producers such as MMC Corp, Genting and YTL Power that pay RM10.72 per million British termal unit (mmBtu). The manufacturing sector pays much more. Companies using less than two million standard cu ft per day (mmscfd) pay RM24.54 per mmBtu of gas while those using more pay RM32.56 per mmBtu. Malaysia produced 2,146 mmscfd, according to Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) 2009 annual report.

Jalilah said new companies should not rely on gas alone but alternative energy. She added only existing companies working with Mida were eligible to seek gas supply under the allocation. She said gas would have to be imported in 2013 due to greater shortage of gas supply.

She said Petronas would continue to seek new gas fields to ensure there would be adequate supply for industries in the future. Petronas, she said, would buy two million tonnes of liquified natural gas per annum in a 20-year deal, starting 2014, with firms in Gladstone, Queensland in efforts to meet future domestic demand.

7 Responses to Can POME methane be fed into Gas Malaysia pipeline?

  1. At the Huckabay Ridge Renewable Natural Gas facility in Stephenville, Texas, about 635,000 MMBtu of biomethane generated from cow manure and other organic waste has been injected into the Enterprise natural gas pipeline since January 2008, making it the world's biggest.

  2. There's always a loss of 33% energy when pure methane is fed into gas engines to generate electricity. Farmers might as well just sell the pure methane to the Gas Company instead of the Electricity Company.

    At the heart of California's farming hub, PG&E Corp had been collaborating with farmers via the Vintage Dairy Biogas Project to harness renewable natural gas from manure to inject into the national gas pipeline and provide heating for 1,200 homes.

    By capturing and purifying methane from manure, dairy farmers in California get to make extra money while helping the environment. This is on top of turning the digestate into fertilizer for corn farming.

  3. Check out this news at Wall Street Journal a few days ago.

    LONDON (Dow Jones)--British Gas, the retail unit of state utility Centrica PLC is going ahead with five biomethane projects that will be the first in the U.K. to inject renewable gas into the grid.

    British Gas' move follows the government's plan to support renewable heat from April 2011.

    Biomethane will help to 'green' the gas grid by delivering renewable heat to households through the existing gas network and central-heating boilers.

    "With 85% of homes heated by natural gas, this is a fantastic opportunity to deliver renewable heat through our existing gas network and central-heating boilers," said Gearoid Lane, British Gas' managing director of communities and new energy.

    Biomethane is sourced from the decomposition of organic material, such as cattle slurry, food scraps and sewage. It has similar thermal characteristics to natural gas and, once the quality is upgraded to grid specification, can be injected into the gas grid.

    In the first project, British Gas will work with Thames Water PLC and Scotia Gas Networks to build a plant at Didcot sewage works in southern England. Thames Water already makes and flares raw biogas from sewage processing.

    Scotia Gas Networks, a consortium made up of Scottish and Southern Energy PLC, Borealis Infrastructure Management Inc. and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, operates two of the largest regional gas networks in the U.K.

    The first feed-in of this 'green' gas into the grid is scheduled for summer 2010. Upon completion, British Gas will also enter into a long-term gas purchase contract with Thames Water.

    Earlier, the government published its plans for a renewable heat incentive that guarantee payments for those who install 'green' technologies such as ground-source heat pumps, biomass boilers and air-source heat pumps. It will also offer long-term fixed payments for every unit of renewable natural gas fed into the gas network.

  4. Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui 17 February 2010 at 15:36

    It is an interesting suggestion that the pipelines that carry gas to facilities using the fuel be also used for methane gas generated from the palm oil industry. I will certainly explore this possibility.

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