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Domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater method

17 June 2022

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?
    • a combustion device that can use the methane as fuel, or
    • a biogas upgrading system capable of refining the gas into biomethane to be used as a natural gas substitute?

If you have answered yes to all of these questions, the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative—Domestic, Commercial and Industrial Wastewater) Methodology Determination 2015 may be suitable for your business. Read on for eligibility and compliance details.

The domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater method sets out the requirements for implementing and monitoring offsets projects that avoid emissions by capturing and combusting the methane generated by wastewater treatment, or by converting the captured biogas into biomethane that is combusted as a natural gas substitute within Australia.

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, or from upgrading the biogas into biomethane that is combusted as a natural gas substitute within Australia. Projects that produce biomethane can also earn ACCUs for abatement associated with displacing natural gas consumption.

Method variations

The Clean Energy Regulator develops variations to methods for a range of reasons including:

  • to implement an ERAC decision to extend the crediting period of a method
  • to ensure methods continue to operate as originally intended
  • to account for technological advances that enable new measurement approaches.

Methods being varied or methods under review are published on the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) website and our method consultation page.

The method variations page provides additional information about how a method variation might affect an existing project.


2022 Domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater method variation

The domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater method variation came into effect on 2 January 2022. The domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater method has been varied to:

  • introduce new eligible project activities to allow projects to upgrade biogas into biomethane that can be used as a natural gas substitute
  • allow projects to claim abatement associated with producing biomethane for use that results in destruction of waste methane, known as conversion abatement
  • allow projects to claim abatement associated with producing biomethane that displaces natural gas use, known as displacement abatement.

If you have a current domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater project, you may be able to transfer your project to the varied version of the method. Apply to transfer your project through the Client Portal.

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

For non-biomethane projects under the wastewater method, the crediting period is seven years. The crediting period is the period of time a project can apply to claim Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs).

Projects that produce biomethane have a crediting period of 12 years, less any time the project has previously earned ACCUs for methane destruction.

Further details on crediting periods for biomethane projects, including restarting biomethane projects, can be found in the documentasset:biomethane method package simple method guide.

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 that 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. Projects that involve the production of biomethane must install new biogas upgrading systems.

Eligible open lagoons must:

  • be more than two metres deep
  • have treated wastewater prior to 24 April 2014 and were 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.

Biogas that comes from a non-project source that is sent to be upgraded into biomethane as part of the project has separate eligibility criteria, discussed in more detail in the biomethane method package simple method guide.

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, or to be upgraded to biomethane in a biogas upgrading system. Any biomethane produced by the project must reasonably be expected to be combusted as a natural gas substitute in Australia. This may occur on-site, off-site at a separate facility, or when biomethane is injected into the gas grid.

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.

For further information about running biomethane project activities, read the documentasset:biomethane method package - simple method guide.

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, combustion device, and biogas upgrading systems, 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.

For further information about calculating net abatement for biomethane project activities, read the documentasset:biomethane method package - simple method guide.

Relevant section of the Method:

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Reporting requirements

In addition to the reporting requirements of the Act and the Rule, Sections 42 to 42C 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 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 or biogas upgrading systems
  • 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:

Relevant section of the Method:

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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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Method development process

The variations to the landfill gas (generation) method, the domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater treatment method, and the animal effluent management method that comprise the biomethane method package, were made by the Minister in January 2022.

For information on public consultation and consideration of the method by the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee (ERAC), visit the biomethane method page on the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources’ consultation hub.



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