Renewables and Energy Technology

Wind turbines, solar panels, home battery storage - if it's discussion about renewable energy you're after, you'll find it here.

Wind turbines, solar panels, home battery storage - if it's discussion about renewable energy you're after, you'll find it here.

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Why not bioenergy?

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I'm curious as to why AGL, along with every other energy provider in the country, doesn't support bioenergy?  In Europe bioenergy is a major part of most countries renewable energy mix.  In Sweden for example it provided 22% of their total energy needs in 2016.  It's base load renewable energy that in Combined Heat and Power (CHP) applications is cost effective at current energy prices.  It has a capacity factor of over 90% compared with 38% for wind and 23% for solar.  According to the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) the levelized cost of energy for wind is $0.07/kWh, bioenergy $0.11/kWh and solar $0.18/kWh (in AUD).  The capital cost for each technology per kWh of annual electricity output is: Wind - $0.72/kWh, Bioenergy - $0.72/kWh and Solar - $1.44 however if heat output is also included then bioenergy drops to around $0.36/kWh.  To achieve base load output wind and solar must use some form of storage thereby increasing the capital cost considerably.  If you use biomass gasification technology you can also produce biochar as part of energy production which is a soil improver that also provides long term carbon storage potentially making the process carbon negative.  This is the only renewable energy technolagy that can do this.  So why not bioenergy?

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Re: Why not bioenergy?

AGL Moderator

Thanks for the question, Bioenergy. As part of AGL's commitment to developing a pathway to a modern, decarbonised energy sector, landfill gas, biomass and biogas play a part in our renewable energy mix. Though investment in solar and wind generation are our priority, AGL owns and operates several renewable landfill gas and biogas generation facilities across Australia. AGL’s $16 million biogas utilisation project at Melbourne Water’s Western Treatment Plant in Werribee is the largest biogas power station in the southern hemisphere. The plant produces approximately 50,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy pa and cuts Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50,000 tonnes a year. That’s enough electricity to power over 7000 households for an entire year.  You can read the details of all of our biogas assetts here .

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Re: Why not bioenergy?

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I understand that "waste" destined for landfill is directly burned in Sweden and elsewhere to generate electricity.

I am not aware  of that happening in Australia. Has it been investigated? 

Given the cost of landfill to the economy and the environment it may have benefit other than direct generation.