Victorian Bioenergy Network
The Victorian Bioenergy Network (VBN) is an association of people who share a common interest in bioenergy as a form of renewable energy. Our goal is to collaborate with state and local government, industry and other sectors to increase the use of biomass to produce energy. Members of the VBN believe that the development of bioenergy in Victoria is an important part of developing a bioeconomy with its basic role in a low-carbon circular economy. Our aim is to bring those involved or interested in bioenergy development together to increase collective knowledge, build networks and find efficiencies in bioenergy production by connecting people from all parts of the supply chain, and in addition, provide a credible source of information on bioenergy in Victoria.
Bioenergy is a
energy that creates
more local jobs
than any other
Meredith Dairy installed a biomass heating system to reduce LPG use for heating the large amount of hot water the dairy uses daily.
The boiler system at Beaufort Hospital uses woodchips from the local sawmill as fuel and provides most of the hospital’s heating load previously delivered by an LPG system.
During processing oat hulls are separated from the grain and end up as a by-product. These hulls are an excellent biomass fuel.
What is Bioenergy?
Bioenergy is renewable energy produced from recently living biological material or organic matter, termed biomass. Conversion of biomass into energy takes a number of forms including direct heat from burning wood or other plant material or electricity produced from burning of those same materials. Biomass can be converted into biogas through a biological conversion known as anaerobic digestion or a synthetic gas (syngas) produced by a partial combustion system called gasification. These biogases can replace natural gas and LPG, both fossil fuels. It can also be a transport fuel including compressed biogas, ethanol from fermented biomass and biodiesel from vegetable oils and fats. Newly developed cellulosic biofuels (green petrol and diesel) can be produced directly from plant matter. For any fossil fuel-based product there’s an equivalent replacement product that can be derived from biomass.
Is Bioenergy a truly renewable form of energy?
Yes, it is if the fuel used comes from sustainably managed sources. Plants use photosynthesis to turn sunlight, CO2 and water into the cellulose in their leaves and stems and this is how energy and carbon is stored. When biomass is burned, the process is reversed and the carbon dioxide together with water vapour and energy in the form of heat is released. When plants are regrown, as with crops or plantations, the carbon dioxide is reabsorbed by the growing plants and the cycle continues. Provided the amount of biomass harvested annually is less than the annual growth rate for total area of farmland, plantation or forest, then bioenergy is renewable because the carbon is recycled and not added to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
How expensive is Bioenergy compared to wind or solar energy?
Per kilowatt of peak/rated output, bioenergy systems are two to three times the cost of wind or solar but, unlike wind or solar, bioenergy is an “on demand” form of energy. This means it doesn’t need storage and can produce much more energy over a full year. When the cost of sufficient storage to maintain a similar output is included, bioenergy systems are actually much, much cheaper than wind or solar. The operating costs of a bioenergy system can be high depending on fuel costs. If the fuel is a freely available residual product like sawdust or nut shells, then the cost is minimal. Highly processed fuels such as wood pellets can be expensive.
What fuels can be used for Bioenergy?
Almost any organic material can be used to create bioenergy. This material is often a by-product or residual resource from existing agricultural, forestry or industrial process but can also include human wastes such a food, and garden matter as well as sewerage. There is a wide range of technologies available to utilise the full range of wastes.
Who do I talk to about getting a Bioenergy system installed in my home or business?
For your basic wood heater, there are numerous hardware and heating businesses that can help. For more complex and larger systems, especially for electricity production, there is only a limited number of suppliers/installers at present. It’s something the Victorian Bioenergy Network hopes to change but if you are having trouble finding a supplier, please Contact Us.