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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has released its Bioenergy Roadmap, setting out a pathway forward for the bioenergy sector and providing information to governments and industry to support future growth.

The Roadmap reveals that the bioenergy sector could contribute around $10 billion to Australia’s GDP annually and create 26,200 new jobs, reduce emissions by about nine per cent, divert an extra six per cent of waste from landfill, and enhance fuel security.

To support the implementation of the Bioenergy Roadmap, ARENA has also received $33.5 million in additional funding from the Government to further support and advance Australia’s bioenergy sector through co-funding additional research, development and deployment of advanced sustainable aviation and marine biofuels.

ARENA previously announced that its board had agreed to a request from the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, to invest in the development of a roadmap to identify the economic and emissions reduction opportunities from the bioenergy sector.

ARENA engaged Enea Consulting and Deloitte Australia to assist in developing the Roadmap. The Roadmap is based on extensive industry and public consultation including 147 submissions, nine stakeholder workshops and 40 direct interviews.

The Roadmap will be considered by the Government and help to inform the next series of investment and policy decisions by the private and public sectors in the bioenergy industry in Australia.

The Roadmap highlights the opportunities that bioenergy offers for regional areas, with many feedstocks sourced from agricultural activities, such as sugarcane waste and livestock industries. 

Bioenergy investment will support long-term regional employment, provide additional revenue streams for farmers and drive economic growth.

ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, said the Bioenergy Roadmap sets out the pathway for bioenergy over the next decade.

“Bioenergy has significant potential to complement Australia’s future energy mix and our economy. Being so diverse, bioenergy can benefit multiple sectors with residential, commercial and industrial applications,” Mr Miller said.

“As well as reducing our agricultural waste, bioenergy can reduce emissions in hard-to-abate sectors and can complement other low emission technologies.

“The Bioenergy Roadmap builds upon years of work in bioenergy and the lessons learned from those projects, and sets out a clear pathway forward for the bioenergy sector. 

“We hope this roadmap will provide the information required by governments and industry to further develop our bioenergy resources and support future growth.

“We welcome the additional funding from the Australian Government which will help ARENA to immediately help the sector in funding new research, development and deployment projects in aviation and maritime biofuels.”

Bioenergy Australia CEO, Shahana McKenzie, said, “This Roadmap defines a clear decade of bioenergy action for Australia and acknowledges the urgency for the bioenergy sector to play a bigger part in the nation’s energy market.

“Significant emissions reductions, fuel security and waste reduction are identified as key outcomes from the Roadmap that will create a better future for Australia. 

“We are confident the bioenergy sector is ready to take on this decade of acceleration. 

“And of particular excitement is the funding mechanisms which will enable this plan and particularly the amount of action that will be realised in the next three very important years.” 

Bioenergy Australia played a key role in the development of the new Roadmap and united over 60 organisations spanning energy, aviation, heavy transport, investment and banking, construction, waste, agriculture, and research to commend the Australian Government on the landmark moment for bioenergy in Australia.

“We are fully aligned with the government’s commitment to a sustainable bioenergy industry that delivers lower emissions, regional growth, energy resilience and waste management benefits for Australia,” Ms McKenzie said.

“In particular, regional Australia has long been seeking out pathways as to how they are going to participate in lowering emissions. 

“This Roadmap answers these questions and gives them an opportunity to play a significant role in the future of low emissions energy and fuel markets.” 

McKenzie commended the Roadmap’s elevation of the highest ranked market opportunities and for highlighting that the industry and government’s focus must be on expanding bioenergy’s market share in hard-to-abate sectors such as renewable industrial heat generation, sustainable aviation fuels and biomethane grid injections. 

“We have a number of live industrial renewable heat projects that show bioenergy is a viable and economically beneficial way forward in this space,” Ms McKenzie said. 

“This plan also outlines important developments for the waste and residue resources in Australia. 

“Making the most of organic waste is a huge bioenergy opportunity for Australia particularly as well for the development of regional projects within the agricultural sector.

“We’ve seen in recent years how large disruptions can impact critical systems, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasing fuel consumption cover is of critical importance for Australia’s economy and livelihoods. 

“We are excited at the role bioenergy will play in ensuring Australia’s fuel security into the future.”

Australian Pipelines and Gas Association Chief Executive Officer, Steve Davies, said the Bioenergy Roadmap showed one of the important pathways through which gas will deliver affordable and reliable decarbonised energy.

“The Bioenergy Roadmap, together with the National Hydrogen Strategy, outlines the Federal Government’s commitment to develop the full spectrum of renewable gases,” Mr Davies said.

“This aligns with the gas industry’s own vision as set out in Gas Vision 2050.”

Read Australia’s Bioenergy Roadmap Report here.

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