Energy Minister announces development of bioenergy roadmap

A modern biofuel facility

Energy Minister Angus Taylor has announced the development of a new roadmap to enhance the growth of Australia’s bioenergy sector and identify the role bioenergy can play in Australia’s future energy mix.

Minister Taylor has requested that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) develops the roadmap, to ensure that bioenergy has the scope to expand as an energy source in Australia. ARENA has agreed to the request.

“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.

“Bioenergy currently contributes up to approximately four per cent of Australia’s total energy consumption, as opposed to approximately seven per cent in other OECD countries.

“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.”

The Bioenergy Roadmap will assist with investment decisions by quantifying opportunities where Australia has a competitive advantage in the bioenergy sector.

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. 

The roadmap will leverage the existing work undertaken in bioenergy supported by ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). The Government has already invested over $179 million in bioenergy projects through ARENA and the CEFC since 2015.

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The roadmap will consider:

  • The potential for biofuels to decarbonise the industrial and transport sectors;
  • The role biofuels can play in  contributing to Australia’s liquid fuel security;
  • Opportunities to use biogas in the gas network;
  • Bioenergy’s capacity to generate heat, steam and power; and
  • Quantifying the economic opportunities for Australia, including a focus on regional Australia.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said bioenergy and energy from waste technologies are well-developed worldwide, with the International Energy Agency’s forecasted renewables report identifying this area as an ‘overlooked giant’ within the renewables space.

“There is also significant potential for biofuels to decarbonise the industrial and transport sectors in Australia,” he said.

“Much like with hydrogen, we’re hoping that this will lead to further uptake and unlock new opportunities for bioenergy in Australia, and will enable bioenergy to play a considerable role in helping us to reduce emissions while also providing secure, reliable and affordable energy supply.” 

ARENA has provided more than $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. 

The announcement comes as Queensland, the nation’s leader in bioenergy, kicks off its first Bio Innovation Week held in Brisbane.

Part of the week is the conference Bioenergy STRONG 2019, which will see national and global investors, researchers and bioenergy producers converge on the state capital.

Amongst the topics being discussed at the conference is the findings of the report Biogas Opportunities for Australia.

The author of the report, ENEA Consulting principal Mendo Kundevinski said biogas and hydrogen need to be part of Australia’s energy mix to help secure supply and reduce emissions while also creating jobs and offering new income sources.

“Currently biogas contributes to about 0.5 per cent of the national electricity generation but has the potential to supply up to nine per cent of Australia’s total energy consumption or one-third of the country’s national gas consumption,” he said.

“Biogas is a renewable, continuous and dispatchable energy source that has the potential to reduce Australia’s emissions by nine million tonnes of CO2 each year.”

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