Bioenergy industry searches for engaging communication

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) used an interactive workshop in February to engage with the bioenergy sector and discuss its communication issues.

The capacity building workshop Broadcasting Bioenergy saw Bioenergy Australia manager Steve Schuck and CSIRO social scientist Liz Hobman share their findings with bioenergy industry members, scientists, entrepreneurs, managing directors and government officials.

Republic of Everyone partner Matt Perry, whose company specialises in simplifying sustainability messages so they can be explained to a mainstream audience, facilitated the event.

Mr Perry said his role at the event was to use his renewable energy public relations campaign experience to help translate the industry’s needs into engaging communication.

Based on commissioned research, Mr Perry said the concept of ‘green’ was dead and that consumers were more social issues-led when it comes to sustainability.

“The idea of just being green doesn’t make any sense in this world. I think there is a real emergence of social and community responsibility, which does encompass the environment,” he said.

“I think a lot of people really don’t want to be seen as green in their community. They don’t want to be the greenie.”

Sustainable communication strategies needed to be more nuanced and have a balance of both emotion and rational, he recommended.

“We try to hit the middle, which is getting the best of the emotive and the best of the rational together; which is really what the best marketing is about. It’s the rational underpinning of a really clever leap of creative faith,” Mr Perry said.

Bioenergy Australia manager Steve Schuck discussed the engagement of CPR Sustainability to assist in the development of Bioenergy Australia’s new communications plan to raise the profile of bioenergy. Mr Schuck covered the drivers for the new communications plan, the scope of work, methodology, progress and implementation.

Bioenergy Australia held a conference in late 2011 that included presentations on the latest research findings, including production, harvesting and processing of microalgae for biofuel and co-products; a knowledge management system for algal biofuels/bioenergy/bioproducts; and environmental performance of modern energy-from-waste plants.

CSIRO social scientist Liz Hobman discussed the results of a national internet survey that was conducted in July 2011 to investigate current knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of a random sample of the Australian public towards bioenergy (and a range of other energy technologies) and their beliefs in climate change. The survey is part of CSIRO’s Energy Transformed Flagship that has been conducting research to understand public perceptions of low-emission energy sources and related technologies.