Australia has $5B bioenergy potential: report

Australia stands on the precipice of a significant bioenergy economy, according to a new report launched this week.

Future energy organisation, Bioenergy Australia, has released the first Bioenergy State of the Nation Report in Canberra.

According to the report a significant bioenergy opportunity awaited Australia in which up to $5 billion in potential investments could be sought across regional areas and Queensland was leading the way.

The report from KPMG commissioned by Bioenergy Australia helped to outline criteria for launching a sizeable bioenergy economy.

Speaking at Parliament House to launch the report, Bioenergy Australia CEO Shahana McKenzie said there was much to be gained through the adoption of best practice approaches throughout Australia in light of reviews the report makes of state and territory policies to facilitate policy transfer and learning.

“Queensland has already adopted a number of successful policies which can be adapted and deployed to drive bioenergy uptake across the country,” she said.

Bioenergy is said by advocates to deliver a range of benefits such as employment and economic development of rural/agricultural communities, energy security, utilisation of waste streams and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Report assessments were based on bioenergy performance measured against five evaluation criteria: policy development and effectiveness, bioenergy project development, technology and feedstock, sustainability guidance, advocacy and education.

“Queensland is driving the bioenergy agenda on a number of fronts and should be commended for the incredible work happening across the state,” Ms McKenzie said.

“They have a government who recognises bioenergy as a priority industry, actively rolling out new projects through the delivery of the Biofutures Roadmap and Biofutures Program,” she said.

“There is no shortage of viable options we can implement to drive us forward, and we hope the Bioenergy Australia State of the Nation Report can be this force for change in the sector so Australia can leverage the wide-ranging potential benefits of a bio-economy.”

Byron Bay Bioenergy calls for businesses to help supply feedstock

Byron Shire Council, NSW, has opened an expression of interest for the supply of commercial organic waste to the proposed Bioenergy Plant in Byron Bay.

The technology involved in the waste to energy plant is able to receive more than what the Byron Shire Council already collects, meaning more can be contributed from additional sources.

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Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson said they’re putting out the call to local business and industry to supply commercial food waste and commercial fats, oils and greases as feedstock for the bioenergy plant.

“This is a huge win for our community because it will enable businesses to divert large quantities of commercial food waste from landfill to a Council owned and operated 400-kilowatt bioenergy plant to power our Sewage Treatment Plants,” Cr Richardson said.

“It is the start of us creating our own clean and renewable energy here in the Byron Shire and I strongly encourage our business community to get on board this ground-breaking initiative.

“Our intention from the start was to create a local and scalable bioenergy solution and it is very exciting to be at the stage where we are here inviting the business community to the table,” he said.

It is proposed that the new Bioenergy plant will be located at the Byron Sewer Treatment Plant sit on Wallum Road, Byron Bay.

The Bioenergy plant will help Council reach its zero emissions target by 2025 and make some serious reductions to our carbon footprint,” Cr Richardson said.

It is expected the plant will be commissioned and operational by December 2020.

Waste timber used to power Ballarat disability services

A Ballarat social enterprise has begun using waste timber that would have been stockpiled or landfilled to cut down on its energy bills.

The project is the first being developed through the Ballarat Community Power Hub, a $900,000 program run by Sustainability Victoria.

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The Community Power Hubs program is being trialled for two years in the Ballarat, Bendigo and Latrobe regions to help communities make the transition to community-owned renewable energy systems.

Sustainability Victoria acting CEO Jonathan Leake said the Ballarat Community Power Hub has provided $6500 and considerable volunteer hours to help McCallum Disability Services access a new biomass boiler.

“A biomass system would reduce energy costs by $100,000 a year and be paid for in seven years,” he said.

“The 2000kw system will be powered by locally-sourced timber waste, operate well-under Environment Protection Authority emissions requirements and produce relatively little ash.”

Greenhouse gas emissions of up to 560 tonnes could be achieved if all natural gas is replaced.

“Importantly, reduced energy costs will allow for the expansion of services to provide additional employment for people with disabilities,” Mr Leake said.

The program is contributing to the Victorian Government’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and having 40 per cent of the state’s energy needs coming from renewable energy by 2025.