BIO-ENERGY “IGNORED” SAYS NEW REPORT
A NATIONAL billion-dollar bioenergy industry continues to be ignored and calls for leadership on the issue have been made, following the release of crucial report at the beginning of December.
A collaborative effort between Bioenergy Australia and KPMG,
the Bioenergy State of the
Nation Report is the first national assessment of its kind that identifies Australia’s significant bioenergy opportunity and provides criteria for kick-starting Australia’s bioenergy economy, it states.
The new report shows Queensland is the national leader while Australia lags behind globally with no national strategy.
The opportunity for Australia is significant and multi-faceted, offering a AUD$3.5–$5 billion investment opportunity, mostly in regional economies, which the Australian government is being urged to address.
Bioenergy Australia CEO Shahana McKenzie said, “The report reviews the policies of states and territories in order to share learning and facilitate policy transfer across Australia, with much to be gained through adoption of ‘best practice’ approaches throughout Australia.
“For example, Queensland has adopted a number of successful policies which can be adapted and deployed to drive bioenergy uptake across the country,” she explained.
NATIONAL POLICY NEEDED
Bioenergy is generated from the conversion of solid and liquid biomass products for use as electricity, heat, gas, liquid fuels and bio-based products and delivers a range of benefits such as employment and economic development of rural/agricultural communities, energy security, utilisation of waste streams and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
While the Federal Government has implemented mechanisms to reduce carbon emissions, such as the Renewable Energy Target and Emissions Reduction Fund, a national vision, policy objectives and/or policy levers would unlock Australia’s bio-economy, organisers state.
Report assessments were based on bioenergy performance measured against five evaluation criteria: policy development and effectiveness, bioenergy project development, technology and feedstock, sustainability guidance, advocacy and education.
The majority of the 179 commissioned bioenergy projects are in Queensland, NSW and Victoria (77 per cent) and the main technologies comprise combustion (56 per cent) and anaerobic digestion (29 per cent).
All states are lacking diversification across feedstock and technology, and most projects produce electricity as an output, which a national vision could transform, it states.
“Queensland is driving the bioenergy agenda on a number of fronts, and should be commended for the incredible work happening across the state. They have a government who recognises bioenergy as a priority industry, actively rolling out new projects through the delivery of the Biofutures Roadmap and Biofutures Program,” said McKenzie.
The report found Australia in the bottom quartile for bioenergy contribution globally, lagging behind other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries placing 20 out of 24 reviewed.
“There is a new industry waiting to be developed for bio-chemicals which can replace the need for fossil-fuel based derivatives entirely. If we don’t seize this opportunity we will be left behind and end up importing what could be made locally, with significant economic and environmental impacts,” said McKenzie.
“Queensland has adopted a number of successful policies which can be adapted to drive bioenergy uptake.”
Above (L-R): Federal member Bob Katter, Kirsty Beavon (Manildra biofoods producer), Shahana McKenzie –CEO Bioenergy Australia, and Dr John Hewson– Bioenergy advocate (and former politician) outside a Volgrenbodied Euro 6 Scania bus at the launch of the report.