|Map of bioenergy resources of NSW (A3)||6.7 MB|
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About this map
This map shows the estimated annual biomass potential of different regions in NSW for 2030, the location of all waste management facilities, and the capacity and location of operating bioenergy electricity generators.
The map was created using data from a 2012 CSIRO study. The study estimated the potential availability of biomass for bioenergy generation by 2030 for the following biomass resources: stubble (from pulp logs, woody harvest processing residue), grasses, wood, bagasse (sugar cane residue) and waste (municipal, demolition and construction). Darker colours represent areas with higher biomass potential. The biomass is estimated in kilotonnes per year for 12 of the Statistical Divisions (or geographic areas) in NSW. These divisions were created by the Australian Bureau of Statistics based on 2001 Census of Population and Housing data.
Existing waste management facilities have the potential to generate bioenergy by adding power generators and harnessing under-used resources, such as sewage and landfill gases.
What is bioenergy?
Bioenergy is produced from organic matter, also known as biomass. Common biomass sources include crops, forests, grasses and waste. Most biomass releases carbon dioxide (CO₂) when converted into bioenergy. This CO₂ can be reabsorbed through photosynthesis during the regrowth of biomass crops.
What can bioenergy be used for?
Bioenergy can be used to generate electricity and heat, or produce liquid fuels for transport. The simultaneous generation of electricity and heat is called cogeneration and is common in bioelectricity production.
Combustion processes convert biomass to heat energy, which can be used for heating or to generate electricity. Chemical processing can convert biomass into liquid fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, which can be used for transport or electricity generation. Anaerobic digestion of biomass (that is, microorganisms breaking down materials in an oxygen-free environment) produces biogas, composed mainly of CO₂ and methane. This can also be used in power generation, or combusted for heating.
Are there bioenergy resources in NSW?
There are extensive bioenergy resources in the large and well established agricultural and forestry areas across the state. NSW also has a large urban population that generates significant urban waste resources, landfill and sewage gas.
How is bioenergy used in NSW?
Currently, there are 34 operational bioenergy power generators, and in 2015 they produced 1.5% of the total electricity generated in NSW (including ACT). The majority of NSW’s bioenergy currently comes from bagasse. Two sugar mills have installed cogeneration plants which produce electricity and heat from bagasse. The Broadwater Sugar Mill is the largest bioenergy electricity generation project in NSW and fifth largest in Australia. It has a 38 MW capacity. The Condong Sugar Mill has a 30 MW capacity. Several other sugar mills use bagasse-produced electricity for sugar milling and refining processes. Some other examples of electricity producing bioenergy facilities include:
- Tumut Visy Paper Bioenergy Facility (32 MW capacity) uses black liquor, a residual waste from paper manufacturing, to power the paper mill and returns any excess electricity to the grid.
- The two Lucas Heights bioenergy power stations (22.7 MW combined capacity) use landfill gases to produce electricity.
- Eight of Sydney Water’s wastewater treatment and water recycling plants have cogeneration facilities to convert sewage gases into electricity (9.9 MW combined capacity).
- EarthPower Technologies was Australia’s first facility to use anaerobic digestion to convert food waste into biogas (3.9 MW capacity).
There are currently only two biofuel producing facilities in NSW. The first is a 20 million litre capacity plant in Rutherford, which produces biodiesel from used cooking oil and vegetable oils. The second is the Manildra Ethanol Plant in Nowra, which produces ethanol from starch. The plant has a capacity of 300 million litres, which is enough energy for about 100 000 cars for a year.
What is the future of bioenergy in NSW?
Electricity generation from biomass, particularly agricultural waste, and landfill and sewage gases, is relatively well established. However there is still significant potential to provide a greater source of power generation, including during peak demand. Production of biofuels is expected to be important in improving fuel security whilst reducing environmental impacts.
sugar cane waste
organic materials such as crops, forests, grasses and waste
the amount of energy generated for any length of time. This map indicates capacity as a megawatt (MW).
the ability to do ‘work’ or to ‘make something happen’. It can exist in different forms, such as thermal (heat), kinetic, electrical, chemical and potential (stored). Energy is measured in
fulltime equivalent of employment hours (FTE)
one MW = one million (1 000 000) watts
the process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy into chemical energy
the movement of electricity along transmission lines once it leaves the power station
a measure of the flow rate of electricity, equivalent to one joule of energy per second. One joule is the internationally recognised unit for measuring energy of all types.
The map should be referenced as follows:
Wade S.L., Barry C.M. & Nelson M.D. (compilers) 2016. Renewable energy map of New South Wales: bioenergy resource fact sheet. Geological Survey of New South Wales, Maitland.