Starting a project: The process of starting a bioenergy project
Developing a bioenergy project can be complicated, time-consuming and costly.

It requires methodical planning, especially to understand and address project risks. Acceptable financial returns need to be demonstrated and all stakeholders need to be engaged early and often throughout the process.

Similar planning issues exist whether the bioenergy plant is a small, on-farm heat plant, a district combined heat and power plant, a utility-owned electricity generating plant, or a large scale commercial biofuels plant, according to the International Energy Agency.

Bioenergy project development & biomass supply was published by the International Energy Agency in 2007.

These ‘good practice guidelines’ describe:
  • the biomass resource (supply, sustainability, yields, quality standards)
  • delivering the biomass (harvesting, transporting, drying, collecting, storing, handling)
  • forms of bioenergy for the different conversion technologies
  • barriers – how to overcome them
  • benefits – what to include in an environmental impact statement
  • integrating strategic support policies for bioenergy with other local and national policies (e.g. waste treatment, rural development).

The project development pathway is discussed in Attachment 4 of Bioenergy in Australia: Status and opportunities [PDF, 9.1 MB], published by Bioenergy Australia in 2012.

It describes a typical staged process including:
  • project conceptualisation
  • prefeasibility studies
  • feasibility studies
  • front-end engineering development, or FEED (technical activities that culminate in a document suitable for raising capital for designing and building the plant)
  • implementation decision.

The Renewable energy project development guide, published by the Queensland Government, covers:
  • location selection
  • transmission or distribution network connection
  • development and planning approval
  • revenue and data requirements: Power Purchase Agreement
  • funding initiatives and further assistance.

Starting a biogas project is published by Business Queensland and covers:
  • biogas production
  • reasons for investing
  • approvals and regulations
  • funding and support.

Planning renewable energy projects, published by the Western Australian Government, includes information on scoping project locations, and has links to external resources. The information is a starting point for developers of commercial renewable energy projects in Western Australia.

The Renewable Energy Handbook 2010 [PDF, 3.6 MB] is a guide for project planners on Western Australia’s electricity market and infrastructure, project planning and approvals processes.

Developing a bioenergy project in Victoria, published by the Victorian Bioenergy Network, covers:

UN Energy’s Bioenergy Decision Support Tool is an online tool for planning strategically and assessing risks in investment choices.

The biogas handbook: Science, production and applications published in 2013 by IEA Bioenergy provides a comprehensive and systematic guide to the development and deployment of biogas supply chains and technology.

Analytical tools to assess and unlock sustainable bioenergy potential can be accessed via the Global Bioenergy Partnership search tool. The search tool is targeted at decision-makers at regional, national or local levels in countries facing strategic decisions in developing a modern bioenergy sector.


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