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 3700 GWh per annum. This equates to 1.7 per cent of total electricity generation, and 9.7 per cent of total clean energy generation.

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

Bioenergy in Australia: 2017 in focus

Lucas Heights 2 landfill gas power station

Bioenergy fuel sources are often derived from agricultural, forestry and municipal wastes. Sugar cane waste – known as bagasse – remains the most common form of bioenergy generation, closely followed by landfill gas.

Other common sources include the black liquor derived from paper making, as well as sewage gas and food waste.

Bioenergy projects completed in 2017

Project State Installed capacity (MW) Fuel source
Worsley Multi-Fuel Cogeneration Plant WA 114 Biomass
NAWMA SA 2.4 Solar, Biomass
Tong Park QLD 1.2 Biomass
Rewaste Wollert VIC 1.1 Biomass

The future of bioenergy

MSF Sugar's $75 million Green Energy Power Plant at its Tableland Mill was one of the few major new bioenergy projects at an advanced stage of development during 2017. Construction on the 24 MW plant started in May 2017, and the plant will use bagasse from local sugar operations to produce power when it is completed in mid-2018.

Construction on a $400 million waste-to-energy power plant at Kwinana in Western Australia is scheduled to begin in earnest in the second quarter of 2018. The 40 MW project is being led by Phoenix Energy, which estimates the project will deliver power to Perth within a few years.

Sources:

  • Clean Energy Australia Report 2018