Using biogas technologies to reduce methane emissions from waste

Methane is produced from decomposition of organic matter at landfills, waste water treatment facilities and from agricultural production. The methane can be collected and used as biogas for generation of electricity, production of heat or as a transport fuel. Methane can be described as carbon dioxide on steroids when its effect as a climate change gas is considered. Methane emissions have at least 25 times the warming potential of CO2 emissions when climate impacts are counted over the longer term.

Biogas has been used for centuries and is a relatively low-cost fuel for heating and cooking and a potential renewable substitute for natural gas and imported mineral fuels. Biogas is a natural by product of anaerobic digestion – the breakdown of waste plant and animal material by micro-organisms in the absence of oxygen.

New Zealand has a successful, internationally renowned and growing biogas sector, with several consultancies and equipment suppliers implementing projects at home and abroad, supported by a well-informed and skilled research sector. The current estimate of total amount of methane collected and used as biogas in New Zealand is around 50 megawatts (MWe).  That's enough energy to power 40,000 households, although most of the current biogas produced is used for heat and electricity in industry-scale applications.  There is potential to increase rural biogas generation from food and animal waste. Increased separation of organic material from the waste stream could lead to the development of dedicated bio-reactors.

Biogas technologies are extracting value out of two problems - disposal of waste and climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions.

Biogas is a type of bioenergy and increasing our use of bioenergy is good for the economy – providing economic growth through improved land use, businesses and employment, particularly in rural communities.  Here you’ll find the latest information on biogas production and use in New Zealand.

The Bioenergy Association promotes and coordinates the expansion of the New Zealand bioenergy sector and helps its members' bioenergy businesses grow and flourish. To assist achieve these objectives, the Bioenergy Association manages this portal.

What are we doing to reduce methane emissions

What the Bioenergy Association is doing to assist reduction of methane emissions here.