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Renewables Tasmania

Bioenergy

Bioenergy is the largest form of renewable energy in Australia and the world.

Also known as “biomass”, it’s made from plant-derived organic matter, organic by-products and waste streams. This organic matter is used to produce heat, cooling, electricity, transport fuel and a host of different products.

In Tasmania, an abundance of under-utilised biomass makes bioenergy an attractive, cost-effective form of renewable energy. Thanks to our readily available resources, we can adopt bioenergy easily and rapidly, replacing fossil fuels in every market. It has great potential for fueling transport, injection into the gas network and powering industrial hubs and processes, hospitals, nursing homes, aquatic centres, schools, shopping centres and large buildings.

This position is supported by work of the Australian Biomass to Bioenergy Assessment project (ABBA), who conducted a biomass resource audit of Tasmania’s organic wastes to identify sources, types and quantities or organic matter that may be available for bioenergy production. The ABBA project was part-funded with a $240 000 grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and AgriFutures.

The Government’s vision for bioenergy is currently being developed and will be available for public consultation during 2021.

Related policy documents

Frequently asked questions

Why do we need Bioenergy Vision?

A Bioenergy Vision will demonstrate to investors the Government’s support for this sector and provide certainty and confidence for future investment in our state.

What do bioenergy plants need to operate?

Bioenergy plants run on biomass that is a waste or residue otherwise discarded in the landscape or treated in our waste management system.

Bioenergy can be produced from wet and dry organic residues and waste including sewage sludge, organics that go into landfill, agricultural waste such as processing residues or unused plant parts, and forest harvest and processing residues and waste.

Are there any plans to grow crops specifically for use in bioenergy?

No, Tasmania has an abundance of existing waste and residue streams meaning we do no need to grow any crops specifically for bioenergy.

If bioenergy uses wood waste, will this result in more logging of our forests?

No, returns for bioenergy are not high enough to drive forest harvesting for this purpose.

We have enormous quantities of forestry waste which can be used for bioenergy rather than being left to rot or be added to our waste disposal infrastructure.

Why is bioenergy considered renewable?

Bioenergy is recognised globally as a renewable energy source as all biomass can be regrown. The waste and residue biomass used for bioenergy would otherwise decompose and thus represents a missed opportunity and potentially an environmental and health risk.  Bioenergy is also carbon neutral.

How does bioenergy reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Bioenergy is produced from biomass that would otherwise decompose to greenhouse gasses without providing energy for society. When used as an energy source that displaces fossil fuels, the emissions from fossil fuels are prevented. As biomass can regrow, bioenergy is renewable and emissions from biomass are removed from the atmosphere as biomass regrows.

Will bioenergy facilities damage the environment and/or cause health issues?

No, modern bioenergy is very clean and can be placed in cities and residential areas, as they commonly are around the world.

What energy can be produced via bioenergy?

Bioenergy can displace fossil fuels in every market. Bioenergy can be used to make heat, electricity, cooling and transport fuels and combinations of these. Bioenergy can also produce bio-methane that can displace natural gas in the gas network.

Why is bioenergy a way to help solve waste issues?

Waste biomass must be disposed of or managed at the owners expense as it may pose a fire hazard, health hazard, support pests and diseases or simply get in the way. Bioenergy facilities can receive waste streams and turn waste biomass into an energy source, solving waste issues and potentially turning waste into a commodity.

Will bioenergy help support local communities?

Energy expenses are retained in local communities rather than being sent to an external energy supplier. The feedstock collection and handling supply chain creates employment. Bioenergy is improves the competitiveness of business by providing low cost energy and a waste solution, retaining and potentially attracting businesses to the regions.

What is the bioeconomy and the circular economy?

The bioeconomy is economic activity involving the use of biomass and biotechnology in the production of goods, services and energy.

The circular economy is an economy where resources are reused and re-purposed as long as is possible to extract the maximum value from raw materials.

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Links to other bioenergy resources