Australian Company Wants to Replace Coal With Wood Waste


Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation has recently engaged in a massive lobbying campaign targeted at senior Coalition and Labor politicians to make wood waste a viable alternative form of energy in contrast to coal power stations.

Biomass products like wood pellets are widely used around the world to help reduce omissions and are currently permissible under Australia’s renewable energy targets, but they are not yet financially competitive. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation was founded by the Gillard government to push forward investment into alternative energy sources such as wood and other biomass resources.

The wood pellets are already produced in Australia but are shipped overseas to countries like Britain, Japan, and South Korea for use in power stations there rather than being used within the country. Wood pellets from forestry residues are typically considered to be near carbon neutral because the wood waste turned into pellets and burnt is accounted for by planting more trees, while the wood pellets themselves displace the burning of coal.

Last week, representatives from the clean energy finance Corporation and the Hancock national resource group based out of the United States, met with staff at Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg’s office as well as Climate Change Minister Mark Butler to discuss potential wood waste projects.

Meanwhile, Paul McCartney, an executive at CEFC, reports that the organization is meeting with various companies to raise support for biomass fuels being used in existing coal-fired power stations which have been converted to utilize wood pellets.

“The CEFC believes biomass and bio-energy have a place in a renewable future,” McCartney said. “We think that it needs to be more part of the debate than it has been. We reflect on that on the basis of what is happening around the globe, in Europe and Asia and the UK with renewable bio-energy… Given the intermittency issues we face [in Australia’s national electricity market], bio-energy as a dispatchable base load power source is worth consideration.”

According to estimates by the CFC, the cost per megawatt hour of using wood pellets in coal power stations might be as low as $100 for a single megawatt hour.

Chief Executive of Australian Forest Products Association, Ross Hampton, says that “Australia is uniquely placed to embrace co-firing biomass in our energy mix” to help cut emissions and that it “makes no sense that Australia has all the ingredients to embrace the potential of renewable biomass energy, but instead we are currently exporting this potential to Europe and Asia.”