Internationally it has been proven that bioenergy can be a significant player in energy supply. Indeed many developed economies have ambitious plans to increase the contribution of bioenergy in future. Currently bioenergy contributes less that 1% of Australia’s energy supply. Australia must draw from these international experiences and apply them as part of actions required to combat the effects of climate change.
The ‘Australian Bioenergy Roadmap – Setting the direction for biomass in stationary energy to 2020 and beyond” really highlights how far behind Australia is in terms of using biomass and waste to produce energy. After all, most European countries range from 4 to 15% in terms of how much bioenergy contributes to domestic energy supply.
The roadmap was funded by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, and is the culmination of a collaborative approach working in partnership with the bioenergy industry including the Clean Energy Council and Bioenergy Ausrtalia.
The biomass resource appraisal carried out as part of the development of the Roadmap confirmed that Australia has an abundance of economically viable and accessible biomass resources including agricultural related wastes, energy crops, landfill & sewage gas, sugarcane, urban biomass, and wood wastes.
Bioenergy enhances security of supply and provides a controllable and continuous supply of power. Bioenergy also produces thermal energy which can be used for heating and/or cooling. Bioenergy can contribute significantly to employment and economic development, particularly in rural and regional areas where much of the biomass resources are located and bioenergy can support existing enterprises such as farms and forestry.
The Roadmap demonstrates the potential of the industry and provides the pathways and guidance to attain that potential. The Clean Energy Futures legislation was a good first step, however for the industry to really take off it must be backed up by policy that reduces the barriers to entry, investment in R&D and more support for those already working hard to establish the industry.