Bioenergy involves efficiently extracting considerable quantities of clean, low-emission electricity from sources such as agricultural crop wastes, plantation wood waste, urban garden and food waste, sugar cane residues (known as bagasse), sewage and animal wastes.

In Australia, the sector currently generates approximately 2400 GWh per annum. This equates to just over 1 per cent of total electricity generation, and over 8 per cent of total clean energy generation.

Around 10 per cent of the world's primary energy consumption comes from bioenergy.

A year in focus

LMS's Swanbank facility

More than 60 per cent of Australia's bioenergy capacity came from the combustion of bagasse in 2012. Landfill gas was the second-largest contributor with just over 20 per cent, though its generation has the potential to grow further under the current clean energy legislation.

Breakdown of capacity

  • Bagasse cogeneration – 61 per cent
  • Landfill gas – 21 per cent
  • Black liquor – 10 per cent
  • Sewage gas – 6 per cent
  • Food and agricultural wet waste – 1 per cent
  • Wood waste – 1 per cent

The current installed capacity of the sector in Australia amounts to 778 MW, or 5.5 per cent of Australia's total renewable capacity.

Plants commissioned and under construction in 2011 and 2012

 

No. of plants
in operation

No. of plants
under development

Australian Capital Territory

          3

 

New South Wales

        37

               6

Northern Territory

         1

 

Queensland

        43

               3

South Australia

         8

 

Tasmania

         4

               1

Victoria

        25

               3

Western Australia

        15

               1

 

      136

             14

Outlook

The difficult financial environment, policy uncertainty and grid connectivity issues meant that bioenergy grew only marginally in 2012. Just one small project came online during the year.

Large sustainable biomass resources across the country remain under-utilised. Bioenergy has the potential for strong growth given more favourable financial conditions and stronger policy support.

Sources:

  • Clean Energy Council Renewable Energy Database