Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Recent changes in government policy in several Australian states have sparked a renewed interest in waste-to-energy opportunities.

Recent changes in government policy in several Australian states have sparked a renewed interest in waste-to-energy opportunities. Australia has been internationally recognized as a potential growth market, and is expected to experience a clean energy “boom” period. Currently, Australia’s landfills accept approximately 10 million tons of municipal solid waste each year. As one of the world’s most urbanized countries, with 22 million people (close to 90 percent of the total population) residing in or near the capital and major cities, there is a significant opportunity for energy from waste to play a role in generating renewable energy and diverting waste from landfills. Based on those figures, Australia is well positioned to develop between 30 and 40 waste-to-energy plants, each with a potential processing capacity of 300,000 to 500,000 tons a year.

Wisconsin companies with expertise in bioenergy and waste-to-energy are in a position to benefit from Australia’s increased investment in this sector by collaborating with local project developers and operators. Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), which acts as a catalyst to increase investment in emissions reduction and the clean energy sector, has identified an investment opportunity of between $2.6 billion and $3.7 billion ($3.5 billion to $5 billion Australian) by 2020 to generate around 800 MW of new capacity from urban, agricultural and plantation forest waste.

The following examples of future projects proposed across Australia may be of particular interest to Wisconsin companies:

  • New South Wales: A $520 million ($700 million Australian) energy-from-waste facility located at Eastern Creek industrial park, proposed by Australian waste management firm Dial A Dump, with the future capacity to thermally treat up to 1 million tons of waste/year.
  • Queensland: MSF Sugar is investing $56 million ($75 million Australian) to build a 24 MW biomass plant to convert cane waste into energy, the first of four planned bioenergy sites to be rolled out from 2018-21.
  • South Australia: The Yorke Biomass Energy Project, a $67 million ($90 million Australian), 15 MW straw-fueled biomass power plant, is expected to be operational by 2019. The CEFC has also loaned $22 million ($30 million Australian) to ResourceCo to build two new plants that will transform non-recyclable waste streams into processed engineered fuel (PEF).
  • Tasmania: Plans to develop the largest bioenergy plant in Australia at Westbury's Valley Central Industrial Precinct in order to support the provision of efficient, renewable energy sources.
  • Victoria: Sustainability Victoria recently introduced the Waste-to-Energy Infrastructure Fund, a $1.5 million ($2 million Australian) grant and investment facilitation program to support the development of new facilities and technologies, such as anaerobic digestion and thermal waste treatment.
  • Western Australia: The proposed Manjimup Biomass Power Station, a 40 MW biomass plant expected to be operational by the end of 2019, with the potential to power up to 60,000 homes.

Local project developers and operators tend to partner with international experts, professional services firms and technology providers. Given the significant untapped potential in Australia, companies with proven technologies and a clear demonstration of viability in global markets will hold a significant competitive edge. Wisconsin companies are encouraged to:

  • review Australian national and state regulations to match suitable bioenergy technologies with Australian conditions, types of waste input, and appropriate plant scales;
  • consider presenting on their specific capabilities and successful case studies from other international markets at the Bioenergy Australia Conference taking place in November 2017; and
  • approach the CEFC to explore potential opportunities for collaboration with companies already operating in the Australian bioenergy sector.