The development of a new roadmap to enhance the growth of Australia’s bioenergy sector and to identify the role that the sector can play in Australia’s future energy mix has been announced.
Bioenergy is a renewable energy source created from organic and renewable materials, also known as biomass. Biomass can produce heat, electricity, biogas and liquid fuels. The most cost-effective and environmentally beneficial sources of biomass and other feedstock are typically wastewater, industrial, commercial and municipal waste and waste streams from the agricultural, forestry and industrial sectors.
Minister for Energy and Emission Reduction, Angus Taylor, has requested that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) develop the roadmap, to ensure that bioenergy has the scope to expand as an energy source in Australia. The ARENA Board has subsequently agreed to the request.
Key issues the roadmap will canvas include:
- The potential for biofuels to decarbonise the industrial and transport sectors, particularly ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors such as aviation and marine
- The potential for biofuels to contribute to Australia’s liquid fuel security
- Opportunities to decarbonise the gas network
- Bioenergy opportunities for heat, steam and power
- Quantifying the economic opportunities for Australia, including a focus on regional Australia.
Bioenergy currently contributes up to approximately 4 per cent of Australia’s total energy consumption, as opposed to approximately 7 per cent in other OECD countries.
“We want to grow this emerging energy source and the roadmap will help to inform future policy decisions in the bioenergy sector,” Mr Taylor said.
“It’s important to support new and emerging energy sources like bioenergy so that we can continue to deliver extra energy supply to the market, drive down energy prices for families and businesses, and lower emissions.”
In late 2018, Bioenergy Australia released the ‘Bioenergy State of the Nation’ report, in collaboration with KPMG. The first report of its kind report identified the bioenergy opportunity for Australia is significant and multi-faceted, offering a $3.5-$5 billion investment opportunity, mostly in regional economies.
The Bioenergy Roadmap will assist with investment decisions by quantifying opportunities where Australia has a competitive advantage in the bioenergy sector.
The roadmap will also leverage existing work undertaken in bioenergy supported by ARENA, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Department of the Environment and Energy.
ARENA has provided over $100 million in funding towards bioenergy projects across Australia spanning energy from waste, biogas, biomass and biofuels. ARENA’s investment to date encompasses electricity and biogas production, efficient feedstock harvesting technology and projects that aim to capture energy from a range of waste materials.
Leading bioenergy industry stakeholders will be consulted on the development of the roadmap, with broader industry consultations to be held in early 2020. Finalisation of the roadmap is expected by mid-2020.