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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 13 Hansard (3 December) . . Page.. 4315 ..

Methane Gas Power Generation

MS TUCKER: My question is to Mr De Domenico. For many months ACTEW have been negotiating with a company about the proposal to tap methane gas from the Mugga Lane and Belconnen tips for the generation of electricity, which potentially could supply up to 2 per cent of total ACT electricity consumption at very competitive prices. The proposed projects will prevent the emission of approximately 9,000 tonnes per year of methane, which is a major greenhouse gas. It will also have positive employment impacts. ACTEW have indicated that they are not prepared to enter into a long-term arrangement to purchase electricity generated from this source, because of the competition in the electricity market, unless they can find a customer. Mr De Domenico, as a major electricity consumer and customer in the ACT, and in light of the motion passed by the Assembly earlier this year calling for the development of quantifiable greenhouse gas reduction measures and this Government's own commitment to reducing greenhouse gases, will this Government purchase this power from this source?

MR DE DOMENICO: I thank Ms Tucker for her question. She gave me notice that at some time she may ask a question in relation to this issue. Mr Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to inform the Assembly, and Ms Tucker in particular, that a tender process has been completed and that ACT Waste are finalising a contract with Energy Developments Ltd for a landfill methane gas extraction and energy cogeneration system at both Mugga Lane and Belconnen landfills. EDL is an Australian company which specialises in the collection and conversion of methane gas into electricity. I expect that the contract will be finalised in January next year, upon which construction will commence on the first gas generator at Mugga Lane. The plant should be operational by July next year, when building will commence on the Belconnen generator.

Mr Speaker, this project brings us into line with other jurisdictions around the country and represents a commonsense and practical approach to both waste disposal and recycling in the ACT. It clearly proves that this Government is committed not only to effective and efficient waste disposal but also to preserving the environment. This project is the result of detailed negotiations undertaken over the past 12 months and is certain to achieve a best value result for Canberra. In addition to making a significant impact in reducing the generation of greenhouse gases in Canberra, the project is expected to produce about five megawatts of green power at peak production.

Mr Speaker, methane is a major component of landfill gas, as Ms Tucker would know, and has a greenhouse effect some 24 times worse than that of carbon dioxide. The project involves extracting most of this gas and using it to operate gas-fired generators. It also has the potential to remove over one kilotonne of the equivalent carbon dioxide emissions per day, enabling the ACT to make a milestone contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases. Other benefits of the project will include greener landfills in the future, as methane - as you are probably aware, Mr Speaker - actually inhibits grass and plant growth, and power generators which can produce waste heat for localised use. This is indeed an exciting project for the ACT, one which I know my Green colleagues and other members of the Assembly will applaud.

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