Starting a project: Policies and regulations

Government policies and regulations may have a strong influence on the viability and timeline for a bioenergy plant. Policy mechanisms that affect bioenergy projects may take the form of regulations, targets, mandates, incentives, tax rules and standards.

Each biomass is different, and there are differences in how complex the policies and regulations are for each. Depending on the location and bioenergy plant, the policies and regulations relevant to the project may include areas such as:
  • environment, clearing vegetation, water, agriculture, forestry
  • petroleum/gas, electricity
  • production facilities, waste management or reduction
  • transport, regional development, sustainable planning
  • health and safety.

Below you can find links to relevant policies, regulations and legislation for Australia and for each state/territory:

National

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.


Policies at federal, state/territory, local and industry levels are described in the RIRDC report, Sustainable Production of Bioenergy: A review of global bioenergy sustainability frameworks and assessment systems, in the following areas:
  • direct relevance to biofuel and bioelectricity (page 56)
  • for different types of biomass (page 61)
  • transport and production (page 66)
  • targets and mandates for bioelectricity or biofuels (page 58)
  • international and domestic markets (page 68).

Understanding the National Electricity Market: The National Electricity Market facilitates exchange between electricity producers and consumers through a pooled system, where output from generators is aggregated and scheduled to meet consumer demand. The equivalent organisations for other states are:
  • WA: South West Interconnected System (SWIS), North West Interconnected System (NWIS)
  • NT: Darwin-Katherine Electricity Network

Note: Feed-in tariffs are a mechanism for stimulating the uptake of renewables in markets, including bioenergy. While Australia has several state-based feed-in tariff schemes, they are all small scale and do not apply to bioenergy.

International experiences in resolving issues around bioenergy policy are described in case studies on pages 83–97 in a Clean Energy Council report on Removing barriers facing bioenergy in Australia (2011).

Australian Capital Territory

The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate provides the following information:
  • Energy policy, including sustainable energy policy and renewable energy targets.
  • The revised ACT Electricity Feed-in Tariff Scheme closed in July 2011. Potential renewable energy generators are recommended to contact an electricity supplier to determine the benefits the supplier might be able to offer them for connecting to the electricity network.

New South Wales

In September 2013, the NSW Government released the Renewable Energy Action Plan to guide the state’s renewable energy development. It reports on its progress against the plan every year and in the 2014 annual progress report it lists among its achievements:

NSW Trade and Investment offers the following information:

Northern Territory

The Land and Planning Services (Dept of Lands Planning and the Environment) contain information on topics such as:
  • building
  • planning
  • land information/administration
  • development
  • regulation.

The Environmental Protection Authority deals with:
  • environmental assessments
  • waste and pollution
  • grants and rebates.

The Department of Land Resource Management is responsible for:
  • water planning
  • land use
  • land clearing.

Queensland

The Queensland Government has information on:

South Australia

RenewablesSA is an initiative of the South Australian Government to support the growth of South Australia’s renewable energy industry. It offers information such as:
  • resource/infrastructure maps
  • contact lists
  • case studies
  • rebates and regulations
  • guides to land access, development approvals, connection, licencing, policies
  • existing projects
  • industry suppliers.

Tasmania

Development Tasmania provides the following information:

As well, the Department of State Growth promotes the development of the renewable energy industry and investment in renewable energy projects.

Develop your biomass project in an ideal environment (626 KB) is a brochure prepared by the Tasmanian Government (2014) to promote Tasmania as a place of opportunity for biomass project developers and investors.

It points out that the state has a large volume of uncommitted and certified forest biomass available, and is endowed with excellent infrastructure, a skilled workforce, a well established engineering sector, and an excellent research capacity.

Victoria

Sustainability Victoria’s Guide to Connecting a Distributed Generator in Victoria (PDF, 3.1 MB) outlines how to follow relevant rules and regulations and explains how to negotiate a connection or a network access arrangement with your distribution network service provider, including:
  • who to deal with
  • fees and costs
  • technical info
  • five steps to obtain a connection agreement
  • flowchart and checklist.

The Energy from Waste guideline [PDF 179 KB] (published in December 2013 by the Victorian Environment Protection Authority) outlines how the Environment Protection Act (1970) and associated policies and regulations are applied to the assessment of proposals that recover energy from waste. It offers high-level guidance for industry, government and the community about EPA’s expectations and requirements for siting, designing, building and operating such facilities.

Western Australia

The Department of Finance’s Bioenergy WA webpage outlines WA’s:
  • bioenergy resources
  • current use of bioenergy
  • future use of bioenergy.

The state government also established a WA Biofuels Taskforce to foster the development of a biofuels industry in Western Australia.