More than 120 heavy vehicles in south-west Victoria may soon be running on liquefied natural gas (LNG) as part of a state-first $150 million project. The proposal would bring together industrial gas company BOC , the South West Sustainability Partnership and regional transport companies to establish Victoria’s first micro LNG plant.
Up to six refuelling stations would be built across the region to establish a commercial pipeline-to-truck fuel supply for heavy vehicle transport. The conversion of diesel-powered trucks to natural gas would cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 20% to 25%, reduce maintenance costs and make some reduction in engine noise. It would also bring price stability and long-term economic benefits to transport owners.
Barrie Baker, Executive Officer, South West Sustainability Partnership and Alex Dronoff, General Manager LNG, BOC, met industry leaders in Warrnambool to discuss the proposal, which has already attracted positive interest. According to Barrie Baker, the concept was a prime example of sustainability and was attracting positive and enthusiastic interest in the region.
The companies will use the region’s ample natural product to supply the local industry. It would be environmentally sustainable and economically sustainable because of long-term protection from the fluctuating and rising fuel prices on the world market. The project now relied on a commitment from transport companies in the region to investigate their economic feasibility. Once there is an ultimate commitment to use the product we could have the plant up and running within two years.
A similar micro LNG plant, the first in Australia, is in the process of being developed in Tasmania. There are similar plants in USA and England where liquefied gas is made from recycled landfill gases. The South West Sustainability Partnership initiated talks with BOC after learning of the Tasmanian project.
A land parcel of about 140m x 110m, preferably near existing gas pipelines, would be required for the plant. No specific sites have been identified at this stage. However, the proposed six re-fuelling stations would be located throughout the region at easy-to-access sites.
The plant would have the capacity to produce 50 tonnes of LNG a day, the equivalent of 70,000 litres of conventional diesel. If demand grew, and early indications are positive, there would be the capacity to develop another module to double the output of the plant. He added that the proposal would provide a local solution to global problems. This alternative fuel is cleaner and local, which is a win for the environment and for potential customers.
BOC have operated a LNG plant at Dandenong for 30 years but the proposal for south-west Victoria would be a different style, scale and use totally new technology.