About: Bioenergy industry in Australia

National

The Australian Bioenergy Fund was announced in December 2015 by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

The fund is an equity fund for bioenergy and energy from waste, including agricultural and forestry waste.

The CEFC has committed $100 million to the fund and is seeking private sector investors to match that amount.

The $200 million fund will invest in a range of technologies, including:
  • energy from agricultural waste
  • anaerobic digestion
  • sustainably sourced biomass to energy projects, such as plantation timber residues and sawmill waste
  • landfill gas capture and destruction
  • wood pelletisation
  • biofuel production.

Download the Australian Bioenergy Fund fact sheet [376 kb].



The Climate Council is an independent, crowd-funded organisation providing quality information on climate change to the Australian public.

Their 2014 report, The Australian Renewable Energy Race: Which States are Winning or Losing?, provides the latest research on which Australian states and territories are winning the race to renewables, and which ones are not.

4 key findings:

  • Australia’s states and territories have an important leadership role to play in tackling climate change and growing Australia’s renewable energy industry.
  • South Australia is striding forward leading the Australian states on renewable energy.
  • Victoria and NSW have moved from leaders to laggards in Australia’s renewable energy race.
  • Australia has substantial opportunities for renewable energy. A lack of clear federal policy has led to a drop in renewable energy investment.


Bioenergy in Australia: Status and opportunities, published by Bioenergy Australia in 2012, offers a comprehensive description of the bioenergy industry in Australia.

The Clean Energy Council’s 2010 report Bioenergy Industry [PDF 1.9 MB] describes:
  • the Australian bioenergy market
  • overseas market trends
  • economics of bioenergy
  • technology trends.


The status of the bioenergy sector is described in the Clean Energy Australia Report 2013, published by the Clean Energy Council. The section dedicated to bioenergy covers statistics on the amount of energy generated and lists the bioenergy plants commissioned in 2012–13.

The 2008 Australian Bioenergy Roadmap [PDF 4.5 MB] was developed by the bioenergy industry and published by the Clean Energy Council. It outlines the role bioenergy can play in Australia’s future stationary energy supply. The roadmap sets a strategy to achieve:
  • a growing, sustainable Australian bioenergy industry
  • increased community awareness and acceptance of bioenergy
  • a consistent national policy to support the industry’s development
  • long-term investor certainty.
Topics covered:
  • the case for bioenergy, including benefits
  • overseas benchmarks
  • competition for biomass resources
  • minimising, managing and using waste
  • financing the industry
  • air quality issues
  • conversion technologies
  • the potential contribution of bioenergy (including a biomass resource appraisal)
  • strategies for the industry – overall and sector-specific strategies for sectors such as:
    • agricultural-related wastes
    • energy crops
    • sugarcane
    • wood-related wastes
    • firewood and wood heaters.


National bioenergy strategy for primary industries

In 2011, RIRDC and its partners developed a national research, development and extension (RD&E) strategy for primary industries in the bioenergy sector: Opportunities for primary industries in the bioenergy sector – national RD&E strategy.

In 2014, the advisory forum charged with implementing the strategy published the related implementation plan which aims to guide the priorities for RD&E.

The implementation plan covers the following tasks:

A. Feedstocks
  • Develop feedstocks that are significant, scalable, sustainable and deployable. Key feedstocks include stubble, forest residues and woody crops.
  • Maintain links between feedstock research providers to share learnings, avoid duplication and encourage investment.
  • Adapt the US Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) feedstock readiness tool to Australia to assist research and investment.
  • Produce and maintain a Biomass Resource Atlas (as an online tool).
B. Supply logistics
  • Quantify key harvest and logistics cost drivers for forest residue, agriculture residue, short rotation trees and mixed feedstock supply chains.
  • Develop optimised harvest system selection frameworks for forest residue, agriculture residue, short rotation trees and mixed feedstock supply chains.
  • Develop and apply business models for biomass ‘brokers’.
C. Sustainability
  • Support the development of the ISO standard, including the complementary mechanisms that will be required to ensure sustainability.
  • Identify and prioritise the sustainability risks in bioenergy systems.
  • Develop mechanisms to apply sustainability standards progressively.
  • Develop an Australian standard if required.
  • Apply a systematic approach to evaluate the sustainability of major regional projects.
D. Integrated supply chains and industry development
  • Establish a steering group to guide bioenergy RD&E nationally.
  • Conduct desktop scientific analysis of prospective individual projects (proof of concept).
  • Undertake detailed feasibility studies: local and specific research to de-risk investment.
  • Attract and work with bioenergy businesses through project development.

State/territory

ACT


Strategy 4.3 of the ACT Waste Management Strategy 2011–2025 [PDF 1 MB] is focused on expanding bioenergy generation and investigating new energy-from-waste technologies to generate energy.

Following analysis of the ACT’s waste streams and potential technologies currently available, it was estimated that 10–20% of waste streams could be better utilised for energy generation. The study found that new bioenergy capacity could be sustainably developed with currently available feedstocks and could be a cost competitive form of renewable energy for the ACT.

The government is also supporting trials to determine the agronomic, carbon sequestration benefits of producing and using biochars in the ACT and surrounds.
 

New South Wales


Bioenergy provides a very small proportion of energy supply in NSW. Less than 1% of electricity comes from bioenergy, and about 6% of the energy used for heat and transport.

In September 2013, the NSW Government released the Renewable Energy Action Plan to guide the state’s renewable energy development and to support the national target of 20% renewable energy by 2020.

The NSW Government’s vision is for a secure, reliable, affordable and clean energy future for the state.

The plan positions the state to increase energy from renewable sources at least cost to the energy customer and with maximum benefits to NSW.

The strategy is to work closely with NSW communities and the renewable energy industry to increase renewable energy generation in NSW.

The action plan has 3 goals:
  • Attract renewable energy investment
  • Build community support
  • Attract and grow renewable energy expertise


The government has also appointed a NSW Renewable Energy Advocate to support the Plan. The Advocate’s role is to work closely with NSW communities and industry to facilitate the development of renewable energy projects, increase renewable energy generation in NSW and promote investment in renewable energy.

The Minister for Resources and Energy is leading the delivery of the plan, working with the Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy and the Renewable Energy Advocate to report on progress.

A working group has been established to guide the implementation of the 24 actions set out in the plan. Chaired by the Renewable Energy Advocate, the working group is helping to ensure the plan is delivered using an integrated, whole-of-government approach.

The government reports on its progress against the plan every year and the 2014 annual report is available. Among the achievements listed are:

The 2013 NSW North Coast Bioenergy Scoping Study special report [PDF 1.1 MB], produced by the Sustain Northern Rivers (SNR) Energy Working Group, examines the main bioenergy feedstocks in the region and quantifies their high‐level energy potential where possible. The study serves as a precursor to a Bioenergy Strategy, and will help SNR understand the current opportunities that exist for bioenergy in the North Coast region.

 

Northern Territory


There are currently no local government or industry resources available primarily for the Northern Territory.
 

Queensland


Queensland has the largest bioenergy sector of any state, with its power stations accounting for more than half of the country’s bioenergy generation potential, according to the Clean Energy Australia Report 2013.

The Queensland Government’s business and industry portal provides information on several biofuels and bioenergy research and development projects being carried out in the state. Many of the projects are collaborations between private companies and universities.
 

South Australia


The bio-energy industry is in its infancy in South Australia. RenewablesSA is an initiative of the Government of South Australia to support the further growth of state’s renewable energy industry.

The government has aspirations for the state to be the nation’s leading ‘test bed’ of emerging small-scale renewable applications.

RenewablesSA provides information to inform investors in renewable energy, including information about South Australia’s renewable resources and key infrastructure, land access, development approval, and connection and licensing.

In March 2015, the government commissioned consultancy group Jacobs to analyse South Australia’s bioenergy potential and produce a report and associated spatial data as a first step towards creating a substantial and sustainable bioenergy industry.

The company investigated commercial conversion technologies, mapped potential biomass feedstocks for those technologies and explored the potential for new purpose-grown biomass crops.

By matching biomass feedstock information to companies with a demand for both electricity and heat, Jacobs arrived at a number of ‘hotspot’ areas in the state.

On 24 November 2015, the government launched the report, A bio-energy roadmap for South Australia, and an interactive bioenergy roadmap that shows locations of:
  • energy demand
  • waste streams
  • purpose-grown biomass crops
  • bioenergy hotspots
In Stage 2 of the project, the government will work with relevant industries in the hotspot areas to investigate the feasibility of developing specific bioenergy projects.

 

Tasmania


The Tasmanian Government is supportive of the local renewable energy industry, which is the most developed in Australia. Renewable energy from hydro and wind resources accounts for 70% of the electricity produced in Tasmania.

The Department of State Growth’s priorities for the bioenergy sector are to:
  • facilitate development of distributed/embedded generation projects including wind, mini-hydro and biomass technologies in particular
  • renewable energy based on Tasmania’s endowment of residues for the agriculture and forestry industries.
These priorities are outlined in a Summary of the Renewable Energy Sector. According to the summary, in 2013 the government evaluated the potential of biomass resources as a source of renewable energy and found that:
  • producing ethanol from wood residues is not commercially viable
  • producing wood pellets from sawmill residues has some merits and the feasibility of using pellets to heat public swimming pools, hospitals and nursing homes is being examined
  • producing biogas from fish processing waste has potential.
 

Victoria


Bioenergy, along with wind and hydro, is one of the most used renewable energy sources in Victoria. Most of the bioenergy used comes from wood and wood waste in the pulp and paper industry, and wood burnt in residential fireplaces.

The Victorian Government is promoting investment in the sector to build economic resilience, improve the state’s environmental profile and diversify its energy mix.

It is also supporting research into next generation biofuels which do not compete with food crops.

Investor information is available in Fuelled for growth [PDF 9.5 MB] which was prepared for Regional Development Victoria. It describes:
  • the emerging market for biofuels and bioenergy in Australia
  • the key developments in biofuels and bioenergy in Victoria
  • Commonwealth Government initiatives and incentives stimulating biofuel and bioenergy investments in Australia
  • Victoria’s multifaceted regional economy which is actively seeking diversification and is capable of supplying a range of feedstocks
  • Victoria’s robust economic growth, stability, utilities and infrastructure to support these investments.
The Victorian Bioenergy Network, or VBN, has information on opportunities for bioenergy in Victoria. The VBN is an informal network of more than 650 bioenergy stakeholders, primarily from government and industry in Victoria. Visit their website for information on:
 

Western Australia


The Department of Agriculture and Food is supportive of local bioenergy projects using agricultural waste and food waste.

Opportunities in WA are described in the 2014 Biomass scoping study: opportunities for agriculture in Western Australia [PDF 2.2 MB].

The Department of Finance provides information on the current and future use of bioenergy in Western Australia. Currently 7% of Western Australia’s renewable energy is produced from landfill gas and biomass.

Industry groups

Bioenergy Australia was established in 1997 as a government-industry forum to foster and facilitate the development of biomass for energy, liquid fuels, and other value-added bio-based products.

Members (around 90) include federal and state governments, universities, research organisations, industry bodies and associations, and private companies.

It is concerned with all aspects of biomass and bioenergy, from production through to utilisation, and its work embraces technical, commercial, economic, societal, environmental, policy and market issues.

Activities include:
  • creating an awareness and understanding of biomass energy
  • fostering interest and involvement in the biomass industry
  • facilitating and developing markets
  • facilitating the development of business and project opportunities
  • broadening its support base to ensure its continued role in promoting biomass energy in Australia
  • forming and managing groups to participate in the International Energy Agency’s Bioenergy program.


The Clean Energy Council is the peak business association for Australia’s clean energy industry.

They are committed to accelerating the transformation of Australia’s energy system to one that is smarter, cleaner and more consumer-focused.

They are working towards this goal with industry and government, building a competitive and sustainable market for both clean energy generation and the more efficient use of power in Australian homes and businesses.

They also work to continuously improve the integrity and effectiveness of the clean energy industry through guidelines and technical standards that enhance the safety and quality of clean energy technology.

They publish the annual Clean Energy Australia report, which is a comprehensive overview of Australia’s renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors, and includes key figures and statistics on the energy market.

Contacts

Dr Leigh Clemow

Manager Energy, Infrastructure Development, Regional Development Victoria

Level 11, 121 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000,
Phone: (03) 9027 5438

leigh.clemow@rdv.vic.gov.au
Catherine Way

RenewablesSA

Industry Development Manager, RenewablesSA, 178 North Terrace, Adelaide, SA
Phone: 08 8303 2207

catherine.way@sa.gov.au
David Hurburgh

Tasmanian Department of State Growth

Manager - Resources and Energy, 22 Elizabeth St, Hobart, Tasmania
Phone: 03 6165 5238

David.Hurburgh@development.tas.gov.au
Dr Stephen Schuck

Manager, Bioenergy Australia

7 Grassmere Rd, Killara, NSW 2071
Phone: 02 9416 9246

sschuck@bigpond.net.au
Brendan George

Tamworth Agricultural Institute / NSW DPI

4 Marsden Park Road, Calala, NSW 2340,
Phone: 02 6763 1238

brendan.george@industry.nsw.gov.au