The Australian Energy Review - - FRONT PAGE -

Bioenergy has taken a back seat in the na­tional en­ergy de­bate, mainly be­cause its ben­e­fits are not clearly un­der­stood in Aus­tralia’s en­ergy pol­i­tics and poli­cies. Fresh from host­ing the Bioen­ergy2017 conference in Syd­ney, Bioenergy Aus­tralia’s newly ap­pointed chief ex­ec­u­tive Shahana Mcken­zie spoke with El­iz­a­beth Fabri about the ne­ces­sity for a solid en­ergy pol­icy to sup­port the roll out of new bioenergy de­vel­op­ments. Q. De­scribe your ed­u­ca­tion and pro­fes­sional back­ground.

Pos­si­bly some­what un­usu­ally, I orig­i­nally stud­ied a Bach­e­lor in Ap­plied Science, Sports Coach­ing, but I’ve moved a long way away from that and my ca­reer to date has been com­mit­ted to the non-profit sec­tor and pre­dom­i­nantly in the built en­vi­ron­ment space.

For the last 15 years I have worked for in­dus­try and pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions.

At all times I have sought to re­po­si­tion the role of an as­so­ci­a­tion and break the norm of what peo­ple ex­pect them to be.

I’m al­ways seek­ing to cre­ate and drive pub­lic cam­paigns to as­sist in driv­ing pol­icy change.

Q. How are you find­ing your tran­si­tion to the in­dus­try?

I think my ex­pe­ri­ence in cli­mate and en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy and cam­paign­ing, along with my pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence in driv­ing ad­vo­cacy and in­dus­try growth has put me in a good po­si­tion to un­der­stand the im­pact I can have on the or­gan­i­sa­tion and how my skills can best be de­ployed.

I sat on the Fed­eral Minister for Cities, Cities Ref­er­ence Group, the Aus­tralian Sus­tain­able Built En­vi­ron­ment Coun­cil and cre­ated the Liv­ing Cities Al­liance.

I have a level of un­der­stand­ing and aware­ness of en­ergy pol­icy that al­lows me to get through most days with­out scratch­ing my head.

I am not a tech­ni­cal ex­pert and I will never claim to be, but the in­dus­try has many tech­ni­cal ex­perts; my role is to bring them to­gether, en­gage them in de­vel­op­ing our pol­icy plat­forms, our pub­lic cam­paigns, re­sponses to gov­ern­ment and our long-term strat­egy.

Q. What are Bioenergy Aus­tralia’s key fo­cus ar­eas?

We have re­cently launched our new strat­egy 2017 – 2020. Our clear fo­cus is on driv­ing pol­icy sup­port at the Fed­eral and State level.

In ad­di­tion to this, we need to raise the pro­file of the in­dus­try gen­er­ally. The gen­eral pub­lic doesn’t un­der­stand the bioenergy op­tions that could be de­ployed by busi­nesses, coun­cils and Govern­ments.

We see the role of Bioenergy Aus­tralia to raise the pro­file of bioenergy so­lu­tions so that there is a greater level of sup­port that will in turn drive growth for the in­dus­try.

Some ex­am­ples might be stronger lev­els of sup­port for ethanol, a lo­cal coun­cil run­ning their bus fleet on biodiesel, air­lines sup­port­ing the lo­cal pro­duc­tion of bio­jet, re­place­ment of coal with biomass and bio­gas pro­duced from or­ganic waste, just to name a few.

Q. In Novem­ber, the or­gan­i­sa­tion hosted its an­nual Bioenergy conference. What were the big­gest is­sues brought up?

A ma­jor chal­lenge fac­ing the in­dus­try is the un­cer­tainty re­gard­ing en­ergy and cli­mate pol­icy at the Fed­eral level.

I don’t think this is only a chal­lenge for the bioenergy sec­tor, we need solid en­ergy pol­icy that has bi­par­ti­san sup­port and has a long-term com­mit­ment.

Bioenergy projects can’t be turned on and off; they take plan­ning and con­struc­tion.

They need long-term agree­ments for the feed­stock and equally long term agree­ments for the en­ergy pur­chase.

Q. ARENA has just com­mit­ted more than $16 mil­lion to help fund bioenergy projects led by Mi­cro­bio­gen and Ethtec. What do these projects in­volve?

The Mi­cro­bio­gen bioethanol project is a lead­ing ex­am­ple of Aus­tralian in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy that will be de­vel­oped here and taken to global mar­kets.

The in­no­va­tions in this project are ex­pected to make sig­nif­i­cant leaps in speed­ing up fer­men­ta­tion pro­cesses which will see bioethanol pro­duc­tion in­crease and be op­ti­mised.

The Ethtec pi­lot project will see sec­ond gen­er­a­tion ethanol pro­duced for the first time in Aus­tralia, and the size and scale of the demon­stra­tion plant will not only in­crease lo­cal eco­nomic and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties but will also work to­wards meet­ing the huge in­creased de­mand for ethanol, par­tic­u­larly from QLD and NSW.

These projects are part of a sig­nif­i­cant mo­ment and trend to­wards bioenergy in Aus­tralia, as the frame­works and fund­ing ac­cel­er­ate - and we wel­come it as an in­dus­try.

Q. What ad­vice would you give to com­pa­nies look­ing to make the switch to bioenergy?

A good first step would be to un­der­stand what en­ergy you cur­rently use, what type, and how much, i.e. do you need elec­tric­ity, heat, gas or fuel? De­pend­ing on the type of busi­ness you are run­ning you may have a need for one type of en­ergy more than an­other, such as a green­house need­ing heat.

Af­ter es­tab­lish­ing the en­ergy type you need you should iden­tify what feed­stocks (fuel) you can ac­cess.

Do you have waste prod­uct that is cre­ated through the run­ning of your busi­ness? Are you lo­cated close to other busi­nesses that have or­ganic waste? Is there a lo­cal forestry in­dus­try or agri­cul­tural in­dus­try? Is the waste wet or dry?

All of these ques­tions will then point you in the di­rec­tion of cer­tain op­tions.

A web­site that con­tains a range of case stud­ies is http://biomasspro­

We are also here to help and point peo­ple in the di­rec­tion of op­tions that might suit. To con­tact us go to www.bioen­er­gyaus­

“I don’t think this is only a chal­lenge for the bioenergy sec­tor, we need solid en­ergy pol­icy that has bi­par­ti­san sup­port and has a long-term com­mit­ment.”

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