Australia could cut emissions by up to 9 million tonnes of CO2e per year with fresh investments of A$3.5-5 billion ($2.5-3.6b) in bioenergy, closing 12% of the gap to meeting its 2020 target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation said Thursday.
In a new report, the government agency said Australia has a large untapped potential to use bioenergy from urban waste, live stock and food processing, and plantation forest residues to generate electricity.
“In the past decade we’ve seen a 65 per cent increase in the use of residential solar, while the growth rate for bioenergy has been just four per cent a year,” Oliver Yates, CEO of the CEFC, said.
“With landfill costs rising, we think this is a very important area for local government to focus on, especially since electricity from landfill gas has one of the lowest costs of all energy sources.”
Australia currently gets 0.9% of its electricity from bioenergy sources, compared to an OECD average of 2.4%.
With fresh investments, installed bioenergy capacity could double from current levels of around 800 MW by the end of the decade, cutting Australia’s GHG emissions by 9 million tonnes of CO2e each year, it said.
The government has estimated it needs to cut emissions by a further 236 million tonnes of CO2e between now and the end of the decade to meet its target of keeping 2020 emissions 5% below 2000 levels, although some analysts say that number is likely to be adjusted downwards.
Around 10%, or A$150 million, of the CEFC’s investments so far has been committed to bioenergy and energy from waste projects.
The agency, still on the list of government institutions the government wants to shut down, said the potential was especially large in the waste sector.
“Of the nearly 50 million tonnes of urban waste generated in Australia each year, more than half is recycled and around 20 million tonnes ends up in landfill. Only around 1 million tonnes is diverted for energy or advanced waste treatment,” the report said.
“A range of different urban waste streams offer the potential for generating electricity and heat: food and garden organics, waste wood and timber, wastewater and residual waste are all potential feedstocks for energy from waste projects. The CEFC estimates a potential investment opportunity in urban energy from waste of between $2.2 billion and $3.3 billion,” it said.
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org