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Renewable Energy - Megathread


I have.

When we create and use biomass we are intervening in a natural system. It may help all of us to do so, but the balance is not as it once was. And perhaps wisely we should also be mindful of that when we do.

There are numerous projects that currently leverage off biomass. Most are making better use of waste than letting it add methane to the environment. I hope they continue as they also provide a better source of gas for power generation than new extraction and have a net positive outcome compared with doing nothing.

As emissions from landfill are included in the national greenhouse gas accounting it is also a measurable resource.


For all those who did not watch ABC Landline last Sunday, it would be well worth your while to watch it on ABC iView or on the ABC website, especially the segment on growing blue agave plants in FNQ.

As well as providing biomass to run the mill and export base load electricity all year round to power 28.000 homes, and to produce high value wax products for the cosmetics industry, the mill will also produce some 55 million litres of ethanol per annum.

That is enough to provide the ethanol component in 550 million litres of E10, so for those motorists who use 50 litres a week, that is enough to power over 210,000 vehicles annually.

The other segments featuring shooting on a WA cattle station and the history of the Australian Cattle Dog and the Kelpie were also very interesting.


It’s an interesting observation. Is the use of biomass for vehicle fuel the best resource use? Or also to reduce greenhouse emissions in the transport industry?

The alternative might be to use the ethanol as fuel for combined cycle electric power generation at between 55% and 60% efficiency, rather than burn it in a motor vehicle at 25% efficiency. It produces a greater carbon reduction as an offset against coal as a fuel than as a replacement for petrol or LPG etc. The other option is the use as a renewable fuel for aviation which remains hydrocarbon dependent.

Does this mean cheaper electricity or air travel? Probably not as the natural gas now in use is a cheaper fuel for electric power generation, and aviation fuel might require an upgrade of the ethanol production to a more energy dense fuel to achieve the same overall performance and range as modern Jet-A.

What ever the direction with a five year lead time to maturity of the crop, it would need to scale up rapidly to be a significant energy source. Per the ABS 9309.0 in Jan 2018 there were 19.2M registered vehicles on the roads with 75% petrol powered (approx 14.2M).

The scale of what is needed whether the ethanol went to blended E10 or elsewhere is dramatic. It would take a total of 68 similar projects to power the whole of the Aussie petrol fleet with local E10. Take it further to an e85 blend which can have a higher octane RON 107. That’s 740 similar sized projects or more if you discount ethanol is approx 26% of the energy content compared to petrol. Interesting car options too as it works in a V8 Bathurst car?

Not sure if the larger tank size needed will catch on for 2 wheeled enthusiasts?


Is that what’s proposed? The term biomass generally refers to fibre. Usually lignocellulose.

The project in question involves using all parts of the agave, but burning the fibre as a transport fuel isn’t one of those uses. The fibre could be converted into liquid fuels, but that isn’t proposed at this stage.


This thread has evolved into sometimes esoteric discussions that vary from true alternative projects to academic exercises to fringe technologies to over the horizon what ifs as well as what is happening in the mainstream today.

Thanks for that @mark_m, and the more recent posts have indeed introduced new alternative and renewable fuels, although many of the details seem beyond consumer issues such as ‘what does this mean for me?’ regarding products, regulation, environment, safety, well being, and so on, all topics that Choice ‘is about’.

The .community was envisaged as a place for all Australians to get help with the products and services we use every day, and to have their voices heard so that we can have fair, just and safe markets for all.

Many interesting and informative topics have been raised across the forum including this one, and while not wanting to stifle other topics and issues of the day, this one will be closed as having been a robust and in-depth discussion that has well considered the topical issue. Thanks all.



Since this topic is closed, a post has been on-moved to an open existing topic that is related. It was merged into: Solar and Grid Connections