A recent event held by the Australian Financial Review has seen a number of industrial executives come to the agreement that renewable gas can be a pivotal part of the nation’s move towards net zero.

The roundtable, titled Energy Solutions, was held by the publication in conjunction with Jemena and Australian Gas Networks. The event was designed to bring together a number of sectors to discuss how Australia can speed up its transition towards 100 percent renewable energy.

Brickworks’ General Manager of Energy Melissa Perrow says her company is already utilising a blended supply of energy for its operations.

“We have experience using raw biogas from two landfill facilities at two of our Sydney plants. So, we already have experience using a form of renewable gas and we’re actively conducting a feasibility assessment around co-locating a biomethane renewable gas facility at our brick plants.

Perrow says the move to renewable gas was fuelled due to Brickworks being one of Australia’s main gas consumers.

“The issue for us going forward around decarbonisation comes from the fact that we are a business that cannot electrify,” she says. 

“You cannot electrify the brick kilns because they’re burning at temperatures of over a thousand degrees. So, we have a very strong interest in decarbonising the gas network. We know it will take some time, but we see that this is something that we really need to do as we head towards net zero.”

Energy Consultant Matthew Warren says there are a number of industries that are unable to rely on electrification and as a result, there will always be a demand for gas.

“So, there are specific applications where high temperature and flame-based consumption of energy will continue and they need to be zero emissions,” he says. 

“I think they will far exceed the supply you could possibly bring just with biomethane, which is where (options like) hydrogen come in.”

Perrow believes there are many alternatives to just wind and solar power that can aid in the process of decarbonisation.

“When you look at trying to decarbonise the gas network, you’re quite limited. So, to the extent that we have biomethane, it should be prioritised to be injected into networks to start that decarbonisation process.”

Cost reduction is unlikely to be an initial benefit for companies who switch to renewables, with energy prices unlikely to drop below long term averages recorded before the power crisis.

“It (switching to renewable gas) will be more expensive in the short to medium term, but if we’ve got small amounts coming into the network, it starts the process,” says Perrow. 

“It starts reducing the cost down the cost curve and that’s how we progress forward.

“It’s a long-term strategy. People really need to remember that the decarbonisation of the electricity grid has been occurring for more than 20 years, so this is going to be a gradual process. From an end-user perspective, what we want from the policy side is for all options to be included.”