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Domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater method

09 January 2017

ERF

Is the domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater method suitable for your business?

  • Do you treat domestic or commercial wastewater in an open lagoon that is more than two metres deep and has existed since before 24 April 2014?
  • Are you planning to replace your open lagoon with an anaerobic digester that captures methane produced during wastewater treatment?
  • Will the anaerobic digester be able to transfer the captured methane to a combustion device that can use the methane as fuel?

If you have answered yes to all of these questions, the alternative waste treatment method may be suitable for your business. Read on for eligibility and compliance details.

The domestic, commercial and industrial method sets out the requirements for implementing and monitoring offsets projects that avoid emissions by capturing and combusting the methane generated by wastewater treatment.

The method credits destruction of methane generated from domestic, commercial or industrial wastewater. Industrial wastewater does not include wastewater generated during primary production (for example, piggery or dairy manure), but instead covers wastewater generated during the processing of primary products (for example, processing of pork or milk).

It provides an incentive for wastewater operators to replace deep open anaerobic lagoons with anaerobic digesters. Projects can earn Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) for the combustion of methane generated from treating eligible wastewater in the anaerobic digester.

Method variations

Section 114 of the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Ini​tiative) Act 2011 (the Act)​ ​allows for methods to be revised and varied. This is to ensure methods continue to operate as originally intended. Variations to methods are developed and drafted by the Department of the Environment and Energy. Information on draft methods and method variations is available on the Department of the Environment and Energy’s website.

The Clean Energy Regulator recommends making yourself familiar with proposed method variations relevant to your project should they arise, and how any changes between the original method and the varied method may affect your project plan.

Legislative requirements

You must read and understand the method and other legislative requirements to conduct an alternative waste treatment project and earn Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs). This includes:

Tools and Resources

Quick reference guide to the domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater method

Contents


Crediting period

Seven years – The crediting period is the period of time a project can apply to claim Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs).

Relevant section of the Act:

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Eligibility requirements

There are general eligibility requirements in the Act, which include:

In addition, the method requires an open wastewater treatment lagoon to be replaced with an anaerobic digester, which must transfer captured methane to a combustion device that uses the methane as fuel. An anaerobic digester must include a biogas collection system and the equipment required to transfer the biogas to the combustion device.

Eligible open lagoons must:

  • be more than two metres deep
  • have treated wastewater prior to 24 April 2014 and have been in existence before 24 April 2014, and
  • have been used to treat any combination of eligible domestic, commercial or industrial wastewater for the 12 months before you apply to run a project.

You also need to provide evidence of the type and source of wastewater used in the 12 months before you apply to run a project.

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Method:

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Project activities

A project involves replacing an open wastewater treatment lagoon with an anaerobic digester. Under this method, an anaerobic digester must have a biogas collection and transfer system. An anaerobic digester can be created by:

  • covering an open lagoon without adding extra heating and stirring features, or
  • building an engineered biodigester with heating and stirring features.

The biogas from the anaerobic digester is then sent to a combustion device. The combustion device can be a new or existing flare, a boiler, or an internal combustion engine. Any other type of combustion device must:

  • be approved by the Clean Energy Regulator before use
  • destroy at least 98 per cent of the methane in the biogas, and
  • be able to be monitored on a minute-by-minute basis.

Any combination of domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater can be treated as part of a project using this method.

Under this method, industrial wastewater is liquid waste and sludge resulting from the production of specific commodities by specific industries. Industrial wastewater does not include wastewater generated during farming or primary production (for example, piggery or dairy manure). However, it does include wastewater generated during the processing of primary products (for example, processing of pork or milk).

For further information about project activities, read the guide to using the domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater method.

Relevant section of the Method:

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Abatement calculations

Abatement is calculated by subtracting project emissions from baseline emissions.

Project emissions are those that result from energy used to run the project. This includes emissions from:

  • fuel and electricity use
  • the anaerobic digester and combustion device, and
  • the end management of digestate (the solid material that remains after wastewater treatment).

Baseline emissions are those that would have occurred if the wastewater was treated in an open lagoon instead of an anaerobic digester. They can be calculated by measuring either the amount of:

  • organic material in the wastewater that would have been treated, or
  • methane sent to the combustion device.

If you have undertaken historical sampling for the purposes of working out baseline emissions, you can choose to use either option above. Historical sampling involves collecting wastewater samples from the lagoon before replacing it with an anaerobic digester.

If your historical information does not meet the requirements in Section 45 of the method, or if you do not have historical information, then you can only use the second option to calculate baseline emissions.

For further information about calculating baselines, emissions and abatement, read the guide to using the domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater method.

Relevant section of the Method:

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Reporting requirements

In addition to the reporting requirements of the Act and the Rule, Section 43 of the method also sets out the following method-specific requirements for offset reports:

  • You must report any periods where it is not possible to meet monitoring requirements, as well as situations where the version of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) (Measurement) Determination used for determining a parameter or factor is not in force at the end of the reporting period.
  • In such situations, you must report the version of the NGER (Measurement) Determination or external source that was used when undertaking monitoring, the dates that the version was used and why it was not possible for you to use the version that was in force at the end of the reporting period.

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

Relevant section of the Method:

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Monitoring requirements

In addition to the general monitoring requirements of the Act, section 45 in the method states that projects must meet specific monitoring requirements. These include monitoring the:

  • quantities of ineligible materials and eligible wastewater treated by the project
  • volume and methane content of biogas sent to combustion devices
  • volume of fuel and electricity used by the project, and
  • wet weight of digestate treated.

If you are unable to monitor any of the parameters used in the abatement calculations during a reporting period, you must determine their value following section 46 in the method.

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Method:

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Record-keeping requirements

Scheme participants must keep records according to the general record-keeping requirements of the Act and Rules.

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

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Audits

All projects receive an audit schedule when the project is declared and must provide audit reports according to this schedule. A minimum of three audits will be scheduled and additional audits may be triggered. For more information on the audit requirements, see the Act, the Rule and the audit information on our website.

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

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Specialist skills

Specialist skills may be required to carry out the project with this method. Examples of specialist skills include:

  • registered professional engineer
  • certified energy manager, and
  • certified measurement and verification professional.

Relevant section of the Rule:

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