Brisbane City Council is currently undertaking public consultation until 9 September 2019 for proposed amendments to its Service Station code within the Brisbane City Plan. The changes will provide increased controls to manage the interface between service stations and ‘sensitive uses’, most notably around air emissions and stormwater management.

A link to the proposed amendments can be found here:

In addition to the Service Station code, the changes to council’s air quality and stormwater management policy will also relate more broadly to wider forms of industrial development, including the storage of hazardous materials.

Summary of Proposed Changes

The proposed amendments are more a tightening of certain policy elements as opposed to any sweeping / wholesale changes in policy direction. From a Queensland perspective, other councils often follow the policy directions that Brisbane City Council undertake. It is therefore important to fully understand the proposed changes with potential wider adoption down the track.

Council’s own summary of the proposed amendments is as follows:

  • clarify the existing requirement for service station development to avoid or minimise fuel vapour emissions, in addition to ensuring air quality criteria are met
  • refine assessment criteria for visual amenity, noise, health and wellbeing to enable improved outcomes for service station development, particularly in Centre zones and near residential uses
  • enable service stations and industrial development to use new technologies for stormwater quality protection.

These are discussed in further detail in the sections below.

Visual Amenity

The proposed changes now provide more specific commentary around the screening of mechanical plant and equipment from both any public space or adjoining residential use.
In our experience, the majority of new suburban service stations are generally designed to provide some form of screening to plant and equipment, particularly from public vantage points. However, additional requirements around screening from residential areas may result in more challenging screening requirements where for example a constrained site may require equipment to be located on top of the roof of the building.

Stormwater Treatment

There is an additional policy provision in the code which now deals specifically with spill management and stormwater treatment systems over ‘uncovered forecourt areas’ with a new table of stormwater criteria provided.
The outcome of this new table of criteria is that the first flush of the uncovered forecourt area will be required to satisfy the same treatment criteria of the fuel dispensing areas, namely:

  • <5ppm (mg/L) total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH)
  • ≥80% reduction in total suspended solids (TSS)
  • ≥90% reduction in gross pollutants (GP)

For new applications, were these changes to be adopted, many current treatment systems over uncovered forecourt areas would fail to meet the above criteria. Noting for new applications only and not applied retrospectively.

Air Quality

The section of the code around air quality is proposed to be updated to include more direct reference to the provision of Stage 2 Vapour Recovery. Currently, the relevant performance criteria has a fairly broad interpretation that amenity to sensitive uses is ‘maintained’ through (in part) the installation of ‘vapour recovery systems’. This wording is proposed to be updated with more direct wording around ‘avoids or minimises air emissions through the installation of Stage 1 and Stage 2 vapour recovery systems’.

In our opinion, it would therefore be more difficult to argue against the provision of Stage 1 and 2 vapour recovery where in close proximity to sensitive uses.

The policy also provides clearer reference not just to the protection of sensitive zones, but also sensitive uses within the rural zone. This would give more weight to residential premises within rural zones that previously may have been afforded a lesser degree of amenity protection where located along a busy road or in close proximity to uses of a non-rural nature.

The opportunity for public comment closes at 5pm – 9 September 2019. For queries in relation to the above proposed amendments, please contact John Rowell who would be happy to discuss further.

Telephone – 1300 794 300
Email –
Website –

The Australia alcoholic drinks market is set to reach USD 32.44 billion by 2025, owing to the rise in the premiumisation trend in the country. The demand for alcoholic cross-category drinks is expected to grow significantly over the forecast period on account of the rise in drinking population and various marketing and promotion activities adopted by the famous brands to target the drinking population in Australia.1 The number of glasses of all spirits combined has grown strongly for the past three years, from 49 million glasses in an average four week period in 2015 to 59 million in the year to September 2018 – a 21 per cent increase overall.2

What does this mean for cross-category drinks?

One notable trend is that alcohol is being combined to deliver familiar flavours through a new medium. Different types of alcohol are being blended together to continue the development of new cross-category drinks. The beer, wine and spirits categories are becoming even more blurred as businesses increasingly combine one, two or all three together to create new products. Spirit beers and pre-mixed spirit drinks have captured the minds of young millennials, appealing to their experimental attitude towards innovative flavour combinations. As a result, beer producers have followed the lead of the cider category.3

Work Health and Safety Act 2011 implications

One consequence of ‘category blur’ or ‘fusion’ is the broadening of risks to be managed under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. The Act stipulates that a person conducting a business or undertaking has a primary duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of workers and other persons are not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking.

Conventionally the industry has always needed to manage the risks associated with dangerous goods, now referred to as hazardous chemicals under the Globally Harmonised System. Whilst typical fermentation beers are not classified as hazardous chemicals (having less than 24% alcohol by volume), the industry does use a range of hazardous chemicals such as: cleaning in place (CIP) chemicals i.e. sodium hydroxide and nitric/phosphoric acid, refrigerants namely glycol and/or ammonia as well as CO2, a by-product of fermentation process. If not properly managed these materials can pose a real threat to individuals involved in operations.

The growth of mixed drinks and new distilleries has increased the storage and handling of high strength potable spirits. Where the alcohol strength exceeds 24%, additional precautions are required such as classification of hazardous zones and the installation of specially certified electrical equipment. In addition AS1940 – The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids becomes applicable providing design guidelines that affect site layout, drainage and firefighting requirements.

The WHS Act Regulations include specific duties for a person conducting a business or undertaking to manage the risks to health and safety associated with using, handling, generating and storing hazardous chemicals at a workplace. Some of these duties include: identifying hazards, assessing risks, implementing appropriate controls, correct labelling of containers, provision of spill containment systems, emergency preparedness and providing current Safety Data Sheets in the workplace.4

Expertise to ensure compliance

When planning such facilities hazardous chemicals safety considerations must be identified and managed in accordance with council regulations. Spent grain discharge, waste water elimination, trub removal, tank CIP drainage and spent yeast removal require careful consideration when planning and designing brewing systems, whether for small or large scale operations, existing or new-builds.

In summary, regardless of the size of the operations it is essential to conduct a careful risk analysis in the workplace to guarantee the safety of everyone involved in the business practice. Strong focus in workplace safety is key to support a healthy growth of the industry and consolidate Australia as a major player in the brewing industry.

TfA personnel have extensive experience in brewing and beverage plants, including the storage and handling of hazardous chemicals. In addition, TfA are members of the Australasian Institute of Dangerous Goods Consultants. We can assist with Town Planning issues, project master planning, feasibility, project management and design through to compliance auditing.

For queries in relation to any brewery safety matters or brewing and beverage plant projects, please contact
Bhavisha Kallichurn who would be happy to discuss further.

1 DUBLIN—-(BUSINESS WIRE)–The “Australia Alcoholic Drinks Market Size and Forecast by Type (Beer, Cider & Flavored Alcoholic 2 Beverage, Wine, Spirits) by Distribution Channel (Off-Trade, On-Trade) and Trend Analysis, 2015-2025″
2 National liquor news – The huge shifts changing alcohol retailing in Australia – 26 March, 2019 by Deborah Jackson
4 Code of Practice – Managing Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the workplace

Recently endorsed by the COAG Energy Council, the development of a National Hydrogen Strategy will set a platform for Australia to become a major global hydrogen player by 2030. The energy council has agreed to establish a dedicated Working group, chaired by Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel, to lead activities that achieve this vision.

Council has tasked the Working Group with carrying out three kick-start projects, to set the stage for the implementation of a national hydrogen strategy, to be considered by Council in December 2019.

What has changed about Hydrogen Energy in Australia?

Hydrogen presents an opportunity for Australia to lead in the emerging market for low and zero emissions energy, and reap the benefits of early entry into this industry. Global demand for hydrogen is now about 55 million tonnes a year with only 1 million tonnes used for energy. Relatively conservative estimates suggest that global demand for hydrogen for energy purposes is likely to reach more than 8 million tonnes by 2030 and about 35 million tonnes by 2040.

Capitalising on this growing demand for hydrogen could result in an export industry worth $1.7 billion which would provide an estimated 2,800 jobs by 2030 (direct and indirect impact). Most of the jobs created by this new industry are likely to be in regional areas, at sites of hydrogen production, storage and loading for export.

Two international reports have confirmed Australia’s potential as a future major hydrogen supplier. The World Energy Council’s International Aspects of a power-to-x roadmap identified Australia as a ‘giant with potential to become a world key player’. The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook projects that Australia could easily produce 100 million tonnes of oil equivalent of hydrogen, equivalent to 3 per cent of global gas consumption today.

What is the plan moving forward?

Australia’ national strategy should focus on exports first. There is a small window of opportunity to supply Asia’s emerging market. Australia has competitive advantages, such as access to infrastructure and large renewable energy potential, but must act quickly and in a coordinated way to ensure Australia’s place in the hydrogen value chain.

Domestic markets will start to emerge based on consumer decisions, which will be easier and cheaper if a scale is developed via exports first. A national strategy therefore should consider policies and measures to allow domestic use of hydrogen, for things like decarbonising the gas supply, transport, interacting with electricity systems to improve reliability, and industrial processes.

From experience it is known that energy transitions often arrives sooner than expected. To sustain this impetus and set the stage for future implementation of a national strategy, three “kick-start” projects have been identified to be progressed immediately:

  • Commencing work to allow up to 10 per cent hydrogen in the domestic gas network, both for use in place of natural gas and to provide at-scale storage for hydrogen
  • Scope potential for building hydrogen refuelling stations in every state and territory. Fuel cell electric vehicles powered by hydrogen will become available in Australian markets from 2019 onwards, which will create consumer demand for refuelling stations. Beginning this work now, in partnership with industry, will facilitate consumer driven adoption of hydrogen fuelled vehicles. TFA is currently working on a number of projects now in this space.
  • Undertake co-ordinated international outreach to keep building Australia’s profile with major trading partners as a potential supplier. This activity is already underway through Austrade, several state and territory governments and proactive Australian companies, but could be boosted by enhanced coordination across governments and industry, and given a higher profile through Council endorsement and commitment.

Where do we see the industry heading?

Industry players are considering renewable hydrogen as the next liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry, supplying hydrogen to power cars, buses, trucks and trains.

One of historical issues with hydrogen is that it’s difficult to transport over long distances because of its low density. CSIRO is currently trialling metal membranes, to extract pure hydrogen from ammonia. Ammonia is a more efficient way of transporting hydrogen because of its higher hydrogen density when compared to liquid hydrogen. This technology could be the pathway for a new export market.

Currently, there are two major automotive players offering hydrogen powered cars in Australia, Toyota and Hyundai. Both companies have invested millions of dollars in development and provided test vehicles for trials in Australia: the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo. The Mirai was recently tested as part of a 12-week trial by Hobson’s Bay City Council in Melbourne’s inner west. The trial will help Hobson’s Bay City Council reduce its vehicle fleet emissions and reach its environmental target of zero CO2 by 2020. The Hyundai Motor Company Australia has agreed to supply 20 NEXO fuel cell vehicles to the ACT Government as part of the Hornsdale Wind Farm project. It is expected that deliveries of these vehicles will commence in early 2019.

Industrial alkaline fuel cell power company AFC Energy said it received its first commercial order for a hydrogen power generation unit in Australia from Southern Oil Refining. The refinery currently converts several waste streams, including from sugarcane bagasse, “green waste” from cities, woody weeds like prickly acacia, and tires as feedstock for the production of bio-crude oil. Northern Oil is developing a new hydrogen generation technology that uses steam over iron reduction and chemical looping to deliver hydrogen, processes that are reportedly cheaper than conventional steam methane reformation. Surplus hydrogen generated from this system is expected to be consumed by AFC’s fuel cell system.

In summary, Renewable Hydrogen has the potential to become a viable alternative as the energy of the future. With support, new innovations will be made, and Australian hydrogen industries can lead the emerging market for low and zero emissions energy.

To learn more about renewable hydrogen, please contact our engineering manager, Keith Sharp, who would be happy to discuss further.

1. Refinery Hydrogen Power Pilot Takes Shape in Australia,
2. Gladstone company receives $1m bio-hydrogen Boost Metal membrane for hydrogen
3. Metal Membrane for Hydrogen Separation – CSIRO Case Study
4. Renewable hydrogen could fuel Australia’s next export boom after CSIRO breakthrough –ABC NEWS
5. Hydrogen power plant pilot, a first for Queensland, highlights resurgence of humble chemical element –
ABC News
6. National Hydrogen Strategy and Workplan – COAG Energy Council
7. Proposal for a National Hydrogen Strategy, Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO,
presented to COAG Energy Council
8. Joint Ministerial Hydrogen Statement – COAG Energy Council

TfA Project Group recently attended the APFI Forum in Auckland, hosted by ACAPMA – the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association.

A key theme of the forum was the changing face of the industry and the exciting challenges and opportunities that this presents.  The following Industry Note provides a brief wrap-up targeting some of the key topics under the overarching theme of change and navigating disruption.

To read more click  TfA Project Group Industry Note – APFI Forum 2018_A

In this industry note, we discuss the economic benefits of implementing Variable Speed Drives (VSDs) on your site.

What is a Variable Speed Drive?

A VSD controls the speed of induction or synchronous motors by adjusting the frequency and voltage supplied to the motor. They are typically installed in the switch room and can be applied to many types of equipment including conveyors, centrifuges, pumps, compressors, and fans.

Electric motors in industry consume about 70% of total electricity demand. VSD technology can provide major energy savings through integrated programming for process control, without the complexity of additional control equipment such as control valves.

The value of a VSD today

Early VSD technology was often unreliable and noisy, however this is no longer the case and guarantees of
1-3 years are now offered as standard. Maintenance requirements are minimal as long as the VSD is in a cool, clean and dry environment.

Using a VSD can significantly reduce maintenance costs for other plant equipment. At lower speeds you will find that bearings run cooler, fan blades and pump impellors last longer, vibration issues are reduced, and belt tensions are maintained for longer.  A VSD can also regulate pump speed to avoid “water hammer” effects and prevent cavitation by monitoring suction pressure.

Additionally, many VSDs now come with built-in logic for multiple pump master/slave constant pressure operation, dry run protection, and minimum flow/runoff protection.

Cost-benefit analysis

The purchase price of an average pump represents only 10% of its lifetime cost, with 32% due to energy consumption and 20% due to maintenance. Power consumption can potentially be halved by operating a pump at 80% of the rated pump speed. Equipment wear is also reduced. The additional cost of a VSD can often be offset by removing the need for minimum flow recirculation lines and control valves. These combined savings can result in a VSD having a payback period of as little as one year.

Guidelines for purchase

Successful manufacturers differentiate themselves by providing off the shelf spares and high levels of technical support. There is value in standardising VSD selection across your plant, as it can allow for simpler integration into the existing control system and reduced spare parts inventory. A VSD can be sold individually or paired with new pumps. Retrofitting is often the most economical choice, but purchasing a combined package can have benefits with the assurance that the motor will be matched to the VSD.

Closing statement

VSD technology could significantly reduce your energy costs. TfA’s team has the capability and experience to advise on the viability of VSD technology for clients looking to take advantage of their benefits.

To learn more about how VSD technology can benefit your operation, please contact Keith Sharp (Engineering Manager) who would be happy to discuss further.

A discussion paper titled Biofuels to bioproducts: A growth industry for Australia has been released by researchers from QUT. This report was endorsed by Bioenergy Australia and outlines a new action plan to expand the use of biofuels in Australia. As another point of note, Bioenergy Australia has undergone some significant changes which will affect the industry moving forward.

What has changed about Bioenergy Australia?

Biofuels Association of Australia has merged with Bioenergy Australia to provide a united voice for Biofuels and Bioenergy. This will result in a stronger and more collaborative agenda to represent the bioproduct industries of Australia. Keith Sharp represents TfA as a member of the new National Liquid Biofuels Committee, which will advise Bioenergy Australia on matters pertaining to Australia’s liquid biofuels industry.

What is the plan moving forward?

The consensus is that Australia has been slow to adopt biofuels, despite successful implementation in the European Union, the United States and South America. The QUT study recommends a five-point plan to increase the adoption of biofuels in Australia:

1.   Develop a national biofuels, bio-based products and bioeconomy strategy

2.  Implement a national biofuels mandate supporting the introduction of higher quality fuels

3.  Provide supporting mechanisms of education, incentives and infrastructure

4.  Establish policy frameworks for advanced/drop-in biofuels, biochemical and bio-based products

5.  Support commercial developments through industry and research collaboration.

QUT has identified environmental, economic, health and energy security benefits to Australia. A 10% ethanol mandate in petrol alone is estimated to create 2080 direct jobs, 6570 indirect jobs and $1.1 billion of additional revenue per year in regional communities whilst simultaneously reducing total greenhouse gas emissions by 8.9 million tonnes CO2 eq per year.

The report primarily focused on the development of the ethanol and biodiesel industries, with some consideration of advanced bioproducts. TfA believes that the additional opportunities afforded by these advanced bioproducts will be invaluable moving forward. In the biofuels space, additional fuels such as biobutanol, biogas, aviation biofuels, methanol and dimethyl ether could be considered.

Where do we see the industry heading?

Whilst there are numerous new technologies, the key to building new plants is long term offtake agreements for biofuels and bioproducts. There is significant potential for bioproducts that are cost competitive with traditional manufacturing methods such as high value omega oils and cosmetics with a number of plants already in operation around the world.

The good news is that Government agencies such as ARENA and CEFC have a mandate to support innovative second-generation technologies. This is encouraging for new Alcohol to Jet fuel and waste to drop in fuel technologies. Whilst CEFC are yet to make any investments in the Biofuels area, it is notable that ARENA have recently approved finance for the $48M Ethtec second generation Ethanol plant in the Hunter Valley.

In summary, Bioenergy Australia endorses the QUT five-point plan to increase adoption of biofuels and bioproducts. With support, new innovations will be made, and the bioproduct industries can be expected to grow for the betterment of Australia.

For queries in relation to any bio-fuels related matters or projects, please contact Keith Sharp (Engineering Manager) who would be happy to discuss further.

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Industry Note August 2019: Brisbane City Council – Proposed Amendments to Service Station Code

Brisbane City Council is currently undertaking public consultation until 9 September 2019 for proposed amendments to its Service Station code within the Brisbane City Plan. The changes will provide increased…


Industry Note March 2019: Raising Awareness for Workplace Safety in the Beverage Industry

The Australia alcoholic drinks market is set to reach USD 32.44 billion by 2025, owing to the rise in the premiumisation trend in the country. The demand for alcoholic cross-category…


Industry Note February 2019: The Future of Renewable Hydrogen Industry

Recently endorsed by the COAG Energy Council, the development of a National Hydrogen Strategy will set a platform for Australia to become a major global hydrogen player by 2030. The…