$6.2 million national database to stimulate new bioenergy projects

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Canola crop near Binalong, NSW: a new $6.2 m project will create a national database of bioenergy resources and potential across Australia.
Canola crop near Binalong, NSW: a new $6.2 m project will create a national database of bioenergy resources and potential across Australia.
Jan Smith, Flickr CC

On 7 January 2016 the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced $3 million in funding support for the Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC) to undertake a comprehensive assessment of biomass for bioenergy production.

The $6.2 million project aims to unearth new opportunities and make it easier to develop biomass generation and biofuel projects across Australia, ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said.

“There is currently no central, national source of data to assist with planning of bioenergy projects and existing local data is incomplete,” Frischknecht explained. “Australia’s growing bioenergy industry has cited this lack of reliable information as a significant roadblock to getting new projects off the ground.”

The RIRDC will deliver a database that aggregates data on biomass resources across Australia, “providing a clearer picture of where untapped sources of biomass are available”.

RIRDC will work with all states and territories to amass data on the locations, volumes and availability of sources of biomass nationwide, for inclusion on the ARENA-supported Australian Renewable Energy Mapping Infrastructure (AREMI) platform.

The platform will enable RIRDC to map existing and projected biomass resource data geospatially alongside other parameters, such as existing network and transport infrastructure, land use capability and demographic data.

“RIRDC will coordinate current efforts, as well as drawing on and updating existing info, to provide industry and researchers with an accurate estimate of bioenergy potential nationally,” Frischknecht said.

AREMI, a centrally accessible repository for ARENA project information, will share mapping data and information with the broader renewable energy industry. Frischknecht said the new platform would build on existing work and support project development and decision-making.

“This will provide better linkages between biomass suppliers and end users, and support local businesses to get more value from organic material destined for landfill, disposal or other low-value uses,” Frischknecht said.

The first iteration of the database is due for release late in 2016.

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