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Aussie forest industries can do more to fight climate change through increased bioenergy production

Australia’s potential as a bioenergy powerhouse has been unveiled in the Australian Renewable Agency’s (ARENA) Bioenergy Roadmap, which recognises the potential of industrial heat in Australia’s future renewable energy mix.

Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) CEO Ross Hampton said the inclusion of renewable heat in the Roadmap is a major breakthrough as it recognises that a lot of the energy used in manufacturing is for heating processes rather than electricity generation.

“The Roadmap predicts that renewable industrial heat uptake could more than double by 2050 through targeted policies to encourage energy-intensive manufacturers to transition to bioenergy, especially in ‘waste-generating’ processes that can be readily used as feedstock, as is the case in our timber and paper mills,” Mr Hampton said.

“This report confirms that Australia’s bioenergy expansion opportunity is huge, and that sustainably-sourced forestry biomass (such as sawmill residues) makes up a fifth of Australia’s untapped bioenergy resource potential.

“AFPA has been urging the major political parties to recognise the significant opportunities for renewable heat and bioenergy from wood residues which would significantly reduce energy costs and carbon emissions from essential manufacturing processes.

“Crucially, all Australian wood and paper products are made from sustainably-sourced wood that is replanted or regenerated, ensuring that there is no net loss in forest area and continuing the carbon cycle,” Mr Hampton said.

This is consistent with the internationally accepted science. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change makes it clear that biomass energy sourced from sustainably managed forests is carbon neutral and renewable.

“That is why Australia’s forest industries are carbon positive and ideally positioned to play an even greater role in Australia’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 goal,” Mr Hampton said.

“Bioenergy production complements many existing wood and paper manufacturing processes and has the potential to add value, creating more jobs across rural and regional Australia while fighting climate change,” Mr Hampton concluded.

 

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