Bioenergy siting for low-carbon electricity supply in Australia

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Journal Article
Biomass and Bioenergy, 2022, 163
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In the context of renewable energy (RE) generation, biomass resources are different to other renewable resources because they can be stored and transported. These characteristics make bioenergy a dispatchable renewable energy source. While this property is recognised as being very important in supporting the global energy transition, the potential of bioenergy in renewable electricity generation systems is not well understood owing to coarse assumptions around the distribution and availability of the resource. To address this limitation, this study derived a new database of prospective new bioenergy sites in Australia based on a geographic information system (GIS)- bioenergy siting algorithm. The optimised site selection relies on high-resolution biomass resource maps, resources transport distance and other key spatial constraints. Specifically, we present biomass resources maps for bagasse, forestry and cropping residues at a spatial resolution of 5 × 5 km. Australia is on one of the top global producer of sugar cane and as such bagasse was included as feedstock for bioenergy generation. The study identified potential utilisation of 1.0, 16.6 and 28.7 million tonnes of bagasse, forestry and stubble residues respectively at over 223 prospective sites. The new biomass site database is the most comprehensive and up-to-date compilation of prospective bioenergy sites in Australia. Moreover, by considering the real-world spatial constraints, this new data set allows for a reliable appraisal of potential biomass resource utilisation. While our study is focussed on Australia the approach is broadly applicable to other jurisdictions worldwide.
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