Bioenergy involves efficiently extracting considerable quantities of clean, low-emission electricity from waste.

Common sources of bioenergy are:

  • sugar cane residues (also known as bagasse)
  • landfill gas (the methane produced by landfills)
  • agricultural crop and livestock waste
  • household garbage
  • sewage gas
  • wood waste
  • black liquor (a by-product of the paper-making process)

In Australia, the sector currently generates approximately 3600 GWh per annum. This equates to 1.5 per cent of total electricity generation, and 8.6 per cent of total clean energy generation.

Bioenergy generators tend to be smaller than hydro plants and wind farms.

Bioenergy in Australia: 2016 in focus

Lucas Heights 2 landfill gas power station

Sugar cane waste, or bagasse, is the most common form of Australian bioenergy generation, and is used to simultaneously produce both electricity and heat in many parts of the country.

Other common sources of fuel for bioenergy operations include landfill gas, sewage gas, agricultural waste and wood waste. Landfill gas is among the lowest cost of all energy sources.

Bioenergy projects in Australia

For details on the bioenergy projects commissioned in 2016 and the largest bioenergy projects in Australia, you can download the Clean Energy Australia report.

The future of bioenergy

Several projects will be constructed in 2017, including a 1 MW waste-to-energy timber gasification plant in Victoria by City Circle Group, which will divert timber waste from civil construction away from landfill.

MSF Sugar is investing $75 million to build a 24 MW biomass plant at its Tableland sugar mill in Far North Queensland. If successful, the company plans to build three similar power plants next to its other Queensland sugar operations in South Johnstone, Mulgrave and Maryborough. Construction on the Tableland plant was underway at the beginning of 2017.

Sources:

  • Clean Energy Australia Report 2016