Image for Biomass for future renewable energy UPDATES

The recent unprecedented events including the failure of Basslink and low rainfall has been challenging, and the Government is determined to ensure Tasmania’s future energy needs are catered for.

One option that the government is actively considering is biomass – residues from value-added forestry operations sourced from timber production areas and used as a renewable energy source.

Significant volumes of residues are generated each year from forest operations, estimated to produce nearly as much power as the Tarraleah Power Station without cutting down a single additional tree.

To put it another way, that’s enough energy to power around 70,000 homes for a year.

In the light of the recent unprecedented events affecting our energy security, I can confirm that the Southwood project is once again being actively considered by the Government.

The Southwood development was designed to incorporate a biomass power plant fed by forestry residues and remains investment-ready. The Southwood property would add significantly to the state’s renewable energy capacity.

We are also considering biomass proposals in the North, and North West.

In addition, in December last year I announced the next stage in the Expression of Interest process for Southern Residues. It is also a matter of record that includes proposals relating to biomass.

The current stage of the EoI process concludes on 17 February, and I will have more to say after the closing date about the way forward.

The current energy challenge has highlighted the need to diversify our renewable energy portfolio and the Government is open to exploring all options.

• Pete Godfrey in Comments: Here are some figures for a 20 Megawatt woodchip burning biomass plant in the US: Fuel 1 Bone dry tonne per Megawatt hour. So it needs 20 BDT of woodchips per hour to output 20 Megawatts. According to Paul Harriss he is considering putting in a 90 Megawatt generator so it would use around 90 BDT per hour of fuel. That is 788,400 tonnes of woodchips per annum, remembering that this is Bone Dry woodchips so that is equivalent to 1.5768 Million tonnes of green wood. The cost of the fuel in the US varies between $15 and $60 per tonne depending on distance but for an 80 kilometre carting distance it is around $38 per tonne. So the fuel for Mr Harriss plant would cost $59,918,400 if it was carted a similar distance. I am sure that the fuel would be carted much further than 80 kilometres in Tasmania ... so a lot more. So we have $38 per tonne of fuel to produce 1 Megawatt/Hour of power, not taking into account the cost of the power station the input cost is going to be around 3.8 cents a Kilowatt Hour for fuel. Doesn’t sound like it would stack up. Someone has to make a profit, someone has to maintain the plant, pay wages etc. I have to agree here with Jack Lumber ... it is a dud.

• Luigi in Comments: Hello?  Hello?  Anyone home? Here we are up to our neck in alligators.  We’ve got no water in the dams and floods in the streets.  The state is on fire.  Some idiot scrapped the Bell Bay power station.  Bass Link is broken. No electricity.  And nobody’s home. Except for Paul!! Where would we be now if Paul didn’t have the nous to start burning the forests to make electricity?  And water, being a by-product of biomass combustion, will be an unexpected dividend, too!  We just need to condense it and pipe it back upstream! The rest of the government may be missing in action, but at least we have Paul Harriss’s intellect to rely on in extremis.

Blair Richards, Mercury: Forestry’s $480,000 consultants’ splurge FORESTRY Tasmania has spent almost half a million dollars on consultants, much of it on reports informing the State Government’s efforts to restructure the forest industry. Labor is calling for the release of reports to allow Tasmanians to get the full picture on Forestry Tasmania’s viability and the state of the forest industry. However, Resources Minister Paul Harriss says the reports are either Cabinet or commercial in confidence. Documents released after a Right to Information request from Labor show that between December 2014 and July last year Forestry Tasmania spent $481,779 on external consultants. The spending included ...

• Elizabeth Viney in Comments: Luigi is right.  This state is in more strife than Flash Gordon and nothing is happening. The government seems to be bereft of ideas and has gone into hiding.  The Premier was last seen in Cygnet wearing a false moustache. Is it any wonder that stupid ideas like this latest one from Paul Harriss can get coverage when the rest of the government seem to have gone on furlough.

• Shane Humphreys in Comments: Between 500,000 and 1 million tonnes per annum of general waste going to landfill every year in Tasmania. Plasma gasification (low carbon emission and not incineration) produces 60-80 KWh Net per tonne of waste. Yet no one wants to address it. Chuck it in the bin (we all do it) close the lid and forget about it or turn a blind eye as it gets trucked off to become someone else’s and some other generations problem in huge landfills. Let’s not forget that our big renewable energy source in this state relied on dams in our iconic river systems altering them forever and solar, wind, batteries etc also all require mining for significant resources some of which are highly toxic in the case of lithium batteries. There is no truly cost-free option. It’s a question of an acceptable cost-benefit ratio.

• Peg Putt MRs in Comments ...