Oaky Creek powers up methane plant

CENTRAL Queensland colliery Oaky Creek is the latest coal operation to utilise a new mine methane power plant to offset mine methane gas emissions as part of Australia’s Greenhouse Gas Abatement Programme.

Angie Tomlinson

The plant, developed and owned by renewable energy developer Envirogen and featuring 12 GE Energy Jenbacher generator sets, will provide power to a regional grid.

The recent Oaky Creek start-up was today noted during the official launch of GE’s ecomagination program in Australia, designed to help GE customers address escalating environmental and energy challenges.

“By using a previously wasted source of energy for efficient power generation, the power plant also helps reduce the amount of CMM the mine would otherwise need to vent or flare off into the atmosphere,” GE said.

Mines venting methane account for 4% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

To develop the Oaky Creek project, Envirogen secured financial support from Australia’s Department of Environment and Heritage, through its Greenhouse Gas Abatement Programme.

Between 2008 and 2012, the Oaky Creek station is expected to offset greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated equivalent of up to 2.6 million tons of carbon dioxide, according to Envirogen.

At Oaky Creek, GE originally provided 10 of its Jenbacher generator sets through Clarke Energy Australia.

However, to help handle a greater volume and consistency of mine gas found at Oaky Creek, in May 2006 Envirogen engaged Clarke Energy Australia to install two additional 1MW Jenbacher units, which were previously used at Envirogen’s 8MW Teralba CMM project in New South Wales.

Oaky Creek’s 12 Jenbacher units began operating in July, generating a total of 13MW of power.

GE said one challenge faced when drawing methane from an operational coal mine was that sudden changes in the composition of waste coal mine gas from active mining can create a variable fuel quality and supply, placing greater demand on the engines.