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 2400 GWh per annum. This equates to just over 1 per cent of total electricity generation, and 7.6 per cent of total clean energy generation.

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

Bioenergy in Australia: 2014 in focus

LMS's Swanbank facility

LMS Swanbank facility

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

Landfill gas, sewage gas agricultural and wood waste are also commonly used as fuel to produce renewable electricity.

Bioenergy plants operating in Australia (at end of 2014)

 

No. of plants in operation

Australian Capital Territory

3

New South Wales

37

Northern Territory

1

Queensland

43

South Australia

8

Tasmania

4

Victoria

28

Western Australia

15

Total

139

The future of bioenergy

A difficult financial environment, policy uncertainty and grid connectivity issues mean that bioenergy uptake in Australia remains fairly slow.

However, there are numerous large sustainable biomass resources across the country that remain underutilised. Given more favourable financial conditions and better policy support, bioenergy has the potential for extremely strong growth over the coming decades.

Sources:

  • Clean Energy Australia Report 2014
  • Clean Energy Council Renewable Energy Database