Time is ripe to con­sider biomass en­ergy for Tas­ma­nia

Australian Forests and Timber - - BIO -

CUR­RENT CON­CERNS re­gard­ing en­ergy sup­ply in Tas­ma­nia present an op­por­tu­nity to con­sider ap­pro­pri­ately scaled biomass plants in the State, and one man who knows this bet­ter than most is Se­na­tor Richard Col­beck.

Cur­rently Min­is­ter for Tourism and In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion as well as Min­is­ter as­sist­ing the Min­is­ter for Trade and In­vest­ment, the Se­na­tor pre­vi­ously cham­pi­oned the forestry and tim­ber in­dus­try when he was Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary to the Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture.

Se­na­tor Col­beck said the ad­di­tion of an­other re­new­able en­ergy source would en­hance Tas­ma­nia’s rep­u­ta­tion as a re­new­able State.

“A com­pi­la­tion of global sci­ence pub­lished in the jour­nal Fu­ture Sci­ence shows that on a life­cy­cle ba­sis biomass can re­duce car­bon emis­sions by up to 96%,” the Se­na­tor said.

“In 2013 Pro­fes­sor An­dreas Rothe, from the Univer­sity of Ap­plied Sci­ences in Wei­hen­stephan, pro­duced a re­port that found Tas­ma­nia cur­rently uses about 400,000 tonnes per year of bone dry forest biomass to gen­er­ate heat – about 6.5% of Tas­ma­nia’s to­tal en­ergy sup­ply.

“Based on cur­rent prac­tice in Europe, biomass could sup­ply up to 30% of Tas­ma­nia’s en­ergy needs with­out hav­ing to cut down one ad­di­tional tree.

“The WWF and the Euro­pean Biomass As­so­ci­a­tion set a tar­get for achiev­ing 15% of elec­tri­cal pro­duc­tion from biomass in OECD coun­tries by 2020.

“As an OECD coun­try with ef­fec­tively no re­new­ables com­ing from biomass, Aus­tralia has a long way to go to meet that tar­get,” the Se­na­tor said.

“Biomass is re­new­able, cost-com­pet­i­tive with wind and cheaper than so­lar and pro­vides base load en­ergy when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine – it just makes sense.

“Biomass plants in Tas­ma­nia would cre­ate on­go­ing lo­cal em­ploy­ment and would add up to $200 mil­lion to the econ­omy, with the great­est ben­e­fit in re­gional com­mu­ni­ties.”

Se­na­tor Col­beck said a biomass plant in South­ern Tas­ma­nia would as­sist with the forest residues and pro­vide surety for peo­ple work­ing in the in­dus­try in that re­gion.

“One of the very pos­i­tive changes to the Re­new­able En­ergy Tar­get made last year in ac­cor­dance with our elec­tion com­mit­ment was to re­store biomass back into the scheme,” Se­na­tor Col­beck said.

Se­na­tor Richard Col­beck.

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