Industry News

Government investment in bioenergy to boost economy

A new report by Bioenergy Australia and KPMG have called on the Australian government to fire up its bioenergy sector, with the report outlining how the country could harness around US$3.5 billion of potential investment, which will open up huge opportunities for development projects in regional areas.

According to Bioenergy Australia, the sector delivers benefits including employment and economic development of rural and agricultural communities, energy security, utilisation of waste streams and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“There is a new industry waiting to be developed for bio-chemicals, which can replace the need for fossil-fuel based derivatives entirely,” said Shahana McKenzie, Bioenergy Australia chief executive.

“If we don’t seize this opportunity we will be left behind and end up importing what could be made locally, with significant economic and environmental impacts.”

Created from organic materials such as food waste, plant matter and ever sewage, solid and liquid biomass can generate bioenergy in the form of electricity, heat, gas and fuels.

As well as boosting energy security and creating more jobs, the report indicates that by utilising waste streams more efficiently it can drastically lower emissions.

“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 before it’s too late,” McKenzie added.

While Australia is ranked 19 out of 24 when it comes to bioenergy contribution among OECD countries, the Australian State of Queensland has managed to power ahead of the rest of the country, with the vast majority of Australia’s 179 commissioned bioenergy projects, commissioned in the Sunshine State.

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

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

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

“What differentiated Queensland as a clear leader was that it had identified bioenergy as a huge opportunity for the state.”

The new report is based on a survey undertaken by Bioenergy Australia to quantify activity in the Australian bioenergy sector. KPMG used that data to evaluate 222 operating bioenergy plants and 55 projects, either under construction or at the feasibility stage. More than three quarters of the operational bioenergy projects were in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

Australia’s performance in achieving the roadmap’s targets would be monitored and regularly reported, under the report’s proposals.

“A national roadmap reflecting the unique attributes of each state and territory will allow the identification of their respective needs and comparative advantages,” the reported stated.

“Some jurisdictions may have feedback that allows them to become a leader in biofuel refining or generating dispatchable electricity from biomass or producing biochemicals. Different policy levers can be used to support the development of the bioenergy sector.

“These range from explicit targets on the use of bioenergy, such as the E10 biofuel mandate in Queensland and NSW, to government grants to reduce capital costs and contract-for-difference, which guarantee a price for electricity generated over a defined time period.

“Understanding the available levers to the market is an important step towards identifying strategies for the development of the bioenergy sector in Australia. While bioenergy policy levers such as gate fees and capital grants have been implemented in some jurisdictions, a consistent, national approach is currently lacking.”