Report finds bioenergy will generate jobs, lower emissions

Government Roadmap charts a course for Australian bioenergy with $33.5 million funding boost.

Bioenergy could contribute as much as $10 billion per year to the Australian economy by the 2030s, according to a Government roadmap.

Australia’s Bioenergy Roadmap outlines how 26,00 new jobs could be created in the bioenergy sector, with many of them located in regional areas.

The roadmap, commissioned by ARENA and developed by ENEA consulting and Deloitte Australia, was produced at the request of Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, the Hon Angus Taylor MP with the aim of identifying a pathway to develop a thriving bioenergy industry in Australia.

Bioenergy is a form of renewable energy generated from the conversion of biomass into heat, electricity, biogas and liquid fuels. Biomass feedstocks include a wide range of natural materials, including agricultural crops, sewage or landfill.

Waste products from agricultural crops can be used to produce liquid fuels.

In addition to creating jobs, bioenergy offers broad environmental benefits, reducing both emissions and waste. According to the roadmap, bioenergy could reduce Australia’s emissions by up to 9 per cent and divert an additional 6 per cent of waste from landfill sites across the country.

The release of the Roadmap comes as the Government announces a further $33.5 million for ARENA to support the development of the bioenergy industry. The funding will be directed to co-funding additional research, development and deployment of advanced sustainable aviation and marine biofuels.

Unique opportunity

Announcing the new funding, Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said Australia has a unique opportunity to grow a sustainable bioenergy sector that delivers lower emissions, regional growth, and waste management benefits for Australia.

“I welcome the release of ARENA’s Bioenergy Roadmap today and its recognition of the emissions reduction and economic opportunities the sector provides, particularly to our regional communities,” Minister Taylor said.

“The $33.5 million we have committed to back the Bioenergy Roadmap goes hand in hand with the extensive measures the Government is already implementing to grow this sector. These actions will not only support more innovative Australian R&D, but can help to reduce emissions in the transport, gas and electricity sectors too.”

Advanced biofuels are identified by the Roadmap as a low emissions alternative to traditional marine and aviation fuels.

United Airlines created the Eco-Skies Alliance to invest in more sustainable fuels
United Airlines created the Eco-Skies Alliance to invest in more sustainable fuels. Image: United Airlines

Tackling hard-to-abate sectors

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the Bioenergy Roadmap sets out the pathway for bioenergy over the next decade.

“Bioenergy has significant potential to complement Australia’s future energy mix and our economy. Being so diverse, bioenergy can benefit multiple sectors with residential, commercial and industrial applications.

“As well as reducing our agricultural waste, bioenergy can reduce emissions in hard-to-abate sectors and can complement other low emission technologies,” he said.

ARENA has provided funding to Microbiogen to develop genetically modified yeast-based biofuels, and the Malabar Biomethane Injection Project, which harvests methane from Sydney Water’s Malabar wastewater treatment plan for injection into Jemena’s natural gas network.

Darren Miller says ARENA’s work in the bioenergy sector will prove useful in implementing the Roadmap.

“The Bioenergy Roadmap builds upon years of work in bioenergy and the lessons learned from those projects, and sets out a clear pathway forward for the bioenergy sector. We hope this Roadmap will provide the information required by governments and industry to further develop our bioenergy resources and support future growth,” he said.

“We welcome the additional funding from the Australian Government which will help ARENA to immediately help the sector in funding new research, development and deployment projects in aviation and maritime biofuels.”

The Bioenergy Roadmap is available to read on ARENA’s website.