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While much of Australia’s bioenergy to date has been produced from sugar cane bagass and sawmill waste, and more recently also from biogas from landfill and anaerobic fermentation of sewage, a number of new co-generation plants of up to 50 MWe are in the planning stages, and there is increasing awareness of the potential of this form of renewable energy.
One project in very early stages aims to utilise some of the 400,000 hectares of eucalyptus forest burned in the recent widlfires in the south eastern state of Victoria to fuel small township bioenergy plants. A number of small towns of 500 to 1000 population each were almost completely burned. The requirement for a virtually total reconstruction of all town service infrastructure and buildings allows the option for a tri-generation plant fuelled by wood from the killed trees sourced from the surrounding forest. The first planned 3-4 MW plant will produce electricity, hot water and chilled water.
However a real problem is how to most cost-effectively convert the charred trees of up to 1 metre diameter into efficiently handled fuel, as the deep charcoal coating surrounding the wood makes it inefficient to use readily available drum chippers. The project planners are looking at either using short logs or billets as fuel or to source an economic form of grinder or shredder, and have asked for help in locating suitable furnace and feed systems for either of these forms of wood fuel.
The WBA is seeking viable alternative options from within its considerable information networks in Europe, America, Africa and Asia. Feel free to contact WBA Board Member Mr Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any suggestions.