Australian energy plan calls for increased use of biomass
The Australian Greens, a political party, has published a new energy proposal calling for investment in clean energy infrastructure. The report describes scenarios for meeting Western Australia’s electricity demand entirely through efficiency, fuel switching and renewable energy technologies. The plan, titled “True Progress: Energy 2029,” calls for widespread adoption of biomass, geothermal, wave, wind, solar photovotaics and solar thermal technologies.
According to the report, renewable energy accounted for approximately 6 percent of electricity consumed in Western Australia in 2011/201, with landfill gas and biomass accounted for 7 percent of the renewable energy mix.
The energy proposal encourages increased use of biomass in home heating applications and industrial power generation. Regarding residential heating, the report notes that the number of homes using biomass heat has increased tenfold in three years, while biomass contributes between 5 and 20 percent of electricity production in some European countries. However, biomass power contributes less than 1 percent of the power mix in Western Australia, and less than 2 percent nationwide. “This is despite the fact that per head of population [Western Australia] has more land suitable and available for growing biomass crops than any other state in the world,” states the report. In the proposal the Greens recommend building eighteen 25 MW biomass plants across Australia’s wheat belt. Small-scale power production and algae biomass are also addressed in the proposal.
Part of the plan calls for biomass units to be installed adjacent to solar power facilities to augment power output during times of solar and wind “droughts.” According to the report’s authors, the proposed systems would incorporate a biomass thermal heater alongside molten salt tanks at concentrating solar thermal (CST) sites. Biomass would be fired, heating the molten salt reservoirs, allowing the existing steam power cycle, turbine and transmission to be utilized. In this configuration, biomass power would essentially serve as a backup to the CST system.
A full copy of the proposal can be downloaded from the Greens Western Australia Energy 2029 website.