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Australia to benefit from harnessing bioenergy potential

30 November, 2015


Lower waste and energy costs, energy security in remote areas and reducing dependence on natural gas and diesel are some of the potential benefits for Australian businesses when they embrace bioenergy.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) today discussed the future of bioenergy at the Australian Bioenergy Conference in Tasmania.

Paul McCartney, CEFC Executive Director - Corporate and Project Finance, said a new CEFC market report had identified the potential for Australia to nearly double its bioenergy and energy from waste capacity in the next five years.

The CEFC last week announced a $100 million commitment to the Australian Bioenergy Fund, to be managed by the Foresight group. The Fund is seeking additional private sector equity to deliver a $200 million-plus boost to bioenergy projects in Australia.

Speaking at the Australian Bioenergy Conference, Mr McCartney said Australia had the potential to be a leader in bioenergy as new innovative technologies emerge.

"We have identified some 800MW of new generation capacity in bioenergy in the next five years, requiring $3.5 billion to $5 billion in new investment," Mr McCartney said.

"Australia already has some 114 bioenergy and waste from energy plants in operation, with a total of 812 MW of installed capacity. The CEFC cornerstone investment in the new Australian Bioenergy Fund is designed to help unlock important opportunities for bioenergy across the economy."

The CEFC market report - The Australian bioenergy and energy from waste market - has highlighted the opportunity for Australia to close the gap when it comes to generating electricity from bioenergy sources. While OECD countries source 2.4 per cent of their electricity output from bioenergy, this is just 0.9 per cent for Australia.

Bioenergy projects in Australia are most likely to be plants with less than 10MW capacity. The Australian Bioenergy Fund has been designed to suit similar small-scale anaerobic digestion, through to mid-scale energy from waste plants.

"We see big opportunities in urban waste, food processing and animal waste, and plantation forestry residues," Mr McCartney said. "We're working with business, government and industry to turn these opportunities into working projects."

Mr McCartney said the CEFC had identified investment opportunities of: 

  • Up to $3.3 billion to 2020 in the urban waste industry, driven by a combination of rising landfill gate fees and falling technology costs
  • Up to $1.1 billion to 2020 in intensive livestock and food processing industries, driven by readily available feedstock from process waste, higher electricity prices and demand for on-site electricity, heat or steam
  • Up to $650 million to 2020 in energy from waste from plantation forest residues, particularly for wood pellets, given the low-cost and readily available feedstock.

The Bioenergy Australia Conference from 30 November to 2 December covers policies, programs, project development and emerging opportunities.

Learn more at http://www.bioenergyaustralia.org/pages/bioenergy-australia-conference-2015.html