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Is bioenergy for your business?

Bioenergy is energy or power produced from organic matter derived from plants, animals and organic by-products. Referred to as ‘biomass feedstocks’, this organic matter can be used to produce electricity, heat, fuel and other bio-based products.

Many are familiar with the term’s biomass and bioenergy, but few have probably ever considered what opportunity the production of bioenergy has for their business – and how much money it can potentially save. Biomass resources have major potential in diversifying energy sources and supplying additional energy during peak demand, thus reducing business costs.

It also reduces carbon emissions, diverts waste from landfill and produces valuable by-products such as biochar to provide secondary income streams.

In 2015 the South Australian Government undertook a study exploring the states bioenergy potential. The resulting Bioenergy Roadmap identified several hotspots, showing that South Australia has significant potential in commercially available bioenergy.

At the time of the study, the bioenergy industry was worth $0.5B to Australia with high potential for significant growth. To underpin this study and accelerate the development of bioenergy projects, the Bioenergy Roadmap Program was formed, consisting of a prefeasibility fund (the Bioenergy Connect Program) and a second stage full feasibility fund (the Bioenergy Feasibility Fund).

This Program is currently open to businesses operating in South Australia and is aimed at building the capacity of businesses to better understand their bioenergy potential and ultimately increase development of bioenergy infrastructure projects across the state.

Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast is the lead organisation managing and delivering the Bioenergy Roadmap Program and has been doing so since 2016. To date 21 businesses have accessed the Bioenergy Connect Program (BEC) with 4 continuing through to the Bioenergy Feasibility Fund.

This has included olive producers, equestrian centres, food processors, piggeries, poultry and dairy producers, timber processors, councils and even zoos.

In a horticultural context, Holla Fresh at Tantanoola is the shining light of innovation in bioenergy on an international scale. The business replaces purchased electricity and waste-oil-fired hot water with a low emissions, low cost innovative alternative. Called “ECHO2” the bioenergy system supplies hot water for the glasshouse along with electricity and horticultural CO2. They exchange clean recycled wood biomass to run the process with the high value biochar by-product as a secondary product. This system is carbon negative via carbon capture and storage and produces huge financial savings to the business.

The Mount Gambier Aquatic Centre is another simpler bioenergy success story. They have used locally sourced wood chip to run biomass boilers to heat the pool since 2014 – winning the 2014 SA Aquatic Innovation Award from Recreation SA in recognition of this initiative.

RDALC is now calling for other interested businesses to take up the opportunity to enter into the BEC with 10 places still available for pre-feasibility projects. As part of the BEC, successful applicants engage with an approved bioenergy mentor. The mentors guide them through the conceptual stages of developing a bioenergy project and then develop a high-level estimation of the financial benefits of applying bioenergy technology to their business. This prefeasibility report often outlines multiple bioenergy options for the applicant’s business.

To find out more visit the bioenergy roadmap page here or call 87231057.