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What is bioenergy and energy from waste?

Bioenergy is a form of renewable energy that uses organic renewable materials (known as biomass) to produce heat, electricity, biogas and liquid fuels. The most cost effective and environmentally beneficial sources of biomass are typically wastewater, municipal waste and waste streams from the agricultural, forestry and industrial sectors.

Bioenergy technologies are well-developed worldwide. Globally, bioenergy was the source of half of all renewable energy used in 2017 and is forecast to rise exponentially. The International Energy Agency’s market analysis and forecast report, Renewables 2018, identified modern bioenergy as the ‘overlooked giant within renewable energy’.

A report for the International Renewable Energy Agency, Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2017, found the cost of electricity from biomass to be equal to that from onshore wind projects, and well within the range of maximum and minimum costs of fossil fuel generation.

How is it produced?

Biomass can be converted to bioenergy using a range of technologies depending on the type of feedstock (raw material), scale/size of the project and form of energy to be produced. Conversion technologies include combustion, pyrolysis, gasification, transesterification, anaerobic digestion and fermentation, or may be linked to processes such as biorefining.

Some conversion processes also produce byproducts that can be used to make useful materials such as renewable bitumen and even biomass-based concrete. Additional benefits from bioenergy include emissions reduction, waste disposal, providing support for rural economies, and improving air quality.

Bioenergy in Australia

Bioenergy has scope to expand as an energy source in Australia, contributing up to four per cent of Australia’s total energy consumption, compared to ten per cent in Europe. A recent report by KPMG Bioenergy state of the nation report, gives an overview of the bioenergy sector in Australia and a state by state comparison.

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ARENA action

Our purpose is to accelerate Australia’s shift to affordable and reliable renewable energy. By connecting investment, knowledge and people to deliver energy innovation, we are helping to build the foundation of a renewable energy ecosystem in Australia.

Opportunities exist for bioenergy and energy from waste to provide various forms of energy (electricity, heat and fuel) in Australia when there is cost-effective access to feedstock, industrial processes or other pathways addressing local energy demand. We are focussed on improving the long-term cost competitiveness of the sector when providing funding support for bioenergy and energy from waste projects.

What are we looking for?

  • demonstration of lower cost, increased performance, or advanced operating capability of low emissions, flexible capacity technologies
  • projects that demonstrate or address issues with the use of bioenergy and energy from waste in industrial processes, using technologies such as biomass or biogas boilers
  • other high merit, innovative projects across bioenergy and energy from waste.

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Knowledge sharing

We share knowledge, insights and data from our funded projects to help the renewable energy industry and other projects learn from each other, in what is a rapidly evolving sector. Our projects capture high-quality data and information that can be publicly shared and distributed in line with the needs of the market.

Read reports from our bioenergy projects in the ARENA Knowledge Bank.

Last updated 12 September 2019
Last updated
12 September 2019


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