For the agricultural industry, bioenergy is also becoming a smart and indispensable operation, as it’s turning waste disposal into an efficient cost saving operation.
To determine if your site is bioenergy viable, the type of biomass on site, its location, level of supply, quality and whether its treatment will affect other fuel sources must first be defined.
Different types of biomass
Biogas and landfill gas
Bacteria and fungi produce methane gas from the consumption of dead plants and animals. Methane gas is colourless, odorless and combustible. When purified, methane gas becomes a highly valuable fuel source.
Biodiesel is created by chemically reacting alcohol with certain oils, fats or grease. Nowadays, biodiesel in Australia is created from soybean oil. It can be blended with petroleum diesel or kept pure to be used as fuel for diesel engines.
Ethanol is made by fermenting plant sugar, starch or tree cellulose and then distilling it to produce an economically safe fuel source.
Wood and agricultural waste
Most forms of wood can be used as a combustible energy source. In terms of agricultural waste, fruit and vegetable carcasses can be used to generate electricity. Many saw mills turn their waste disposal processes into power generating operations.
Garbage can generate as much energy as 220 kilograms of coal. Half of this energy might come from plastics.
Around each type of biomass to be treated, there are specific hurdles that must be overcome.
Two of the biggest issues in a site converting to using bio energy are the effective use of the biomass and the site’s network connection. Specifically, the overall volume to be used and how it’s collected.
Transportation costs of biomass can be hefty if a site buys fuel from a neighbouring business. The site must consider the impact bioenergy production may have on energy already in use. Things like the cost of connection, the logistical setup of equipment, and any additional financial costs bioenergy can accrue must be considered.
Australia’s success stories
On the Biomass Producer website, you can find a list of bioenergy projects from various Australian rural industries. Each project details the success the business has had with bioenergy and how they achieved large cost savings.
If you look at Darling Downs Fresh Eggs (QLD), you will see that they have 390,000 chickens producing 130 tonnes of manure a week. They treat all of it to produce heat. The result? A 60% reduction in the use of on-site electricity and LPG for heating.
Australia is changing
Even though electricity prices continue to rise from factors affecting the National Electricity Market, such as the closure of Hazelwood (VIC), Northern and Playford (SA) power stations, Australia is moving forward.
For instance, Flow Power customer Yarra Valley Water (VIC) has built a bioenergy facility into their sewage treatment plant. And the Victorian State government has developed a Waste to Energy Infrastructure Fund to support and process biomass in Victoria.