What is Bioenergy?
Bioenergy is a form of renewable energy derived from biomass to generate electricity and heat or to produce liquid fuels for transport. Biomass is any organic matter of recently living plant or animal origin. It is available in many forms such as agricultural products, forestry products, and municipal and other waste.
Traditionally mainly woody biomass has been used for bioenergy, however more recent technologies have expanded the potential resources to those such as agricultural residues, oilseeds and algae. These advanced bioenergy technologies allow for the sustainable development of the bioenergy industry, without competing with the traditional agricultural industry for land and resources.
Bioenergy offers the potential for considerable economic benefits, including:
- increasing Australia’s energy security
- reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- stimulating regional development.
How is bioenergy used in Australia?
Some bioenergy technologies are well established in Australia and are currently in commercial use. Bioenergy currently accounts for nearly 1% of Australia’s electricity production, and 7% of renewable electricity production. Biofuels account for approximately 1-3% of Australia’s fuel consumption.
Australia’s bioenergy industry currently uses a range of biomass resources including:
- bagasse, which remains after sugar has been extracted from sugarcane
- landfill gas
- wood waste and black liquor
- energy crops
- agricultural products
- municipal solid waste.
The majority of Australia’s installed bioenergy capacity is derived from bagasse cogeneration. Australia has several comparative advantages that increase its potential to develop a sustainable and competitive bioenergy industry, including:
- an abundance of sunlight, flat land and a climate suitable for growing dedicated energy crops
- world-class expertise in agricultural science
- a strength in natural resources and infrastructure industry development.