Bioenergy has become an attractive, cost-effective energy alternative to gas and electricity, with its potential use being considered by industrial hubs, regional hospitals, nursing homes, aquatic centres, schools, shopping centres and housing subdivisions.
Bioenergy is usually generated from organic waste from agricultural, municipal, industrial and forestry sources that would otherwise add pressure to waste processing facilities or the environment.
The bioenergy process allows these sectors to turn waste into a saleable product, which supports local economies and employment.
The Tasmanian Government’s Energy Strategy recognises the current and potential future role for bioenergy in Tasmania, and in 2018 the Tasmanian Wood Encouragement Policy was introduced to incentivise the generation of bioenergy from forestry residues.
What is bioenergy?
There are two main forms of bioenergy; combustion and anaerobic digestion (AD). These processes can produce energy to make heat (e.g. steam, hot water), electricity and even provide cooling. Bioenergy can be used in industrial processes, to manage the temperature in buildings and supply base load electricity to the grid.
Large scale combustion of waste in furnaces is now a viable energy source for commercial and industrial applications. Dry biomass such as wood, agricultural, municipal and other wastes can be burned in a boiler to generate energy.
Damp organic waste materials can be transformed into energy in anaerobic digesters. In AD, bacteria transforms wet waste into biogas in an oxygen deficient environment. Biogas can be used in place of natural gas from the grid to fire boilers. Biogas can also be generated from high organic content waste waters.
The Australian Biomass to Bioenergy Assessment Program
In 2016, the Australian Government launched the Australian Biomass to Bioenergy Assessment project (ABBA). This project will deliver a national database identifying and mapping biomass resources across the country.
The Australian Renewable Energy Mapping Infrastructure database can be found here.
As part of this project, a biomass resource audit has been conducted of Tasmania’s organic wastes, detailing sources, stockpiles, production per annum, and estimated future production. The project will also identify locations, quantities, specifications and ownership of the full range of biomass materials with bioenergy potential.
This project has been part-funded with a $240 000 grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) which is undertaking the ABBA project.