Bioenergy, Bioproducts and Energy

Program Overview


RIRDC's Bioenergy, Bioproducts and Energy program aims to meet Australia's research and development needs for the development of sustainable and profitable bioenergy and bioproducts industries and to develop an energy cross-sectoral R&D plan.

Bioenergy - for heat, power and liquid fuels - is the subject of considerable interest and activity worldwide.  However, bioenergy is a complex topic as it encompasses multiple feedstocks from agriculture, forestry, and urban sources. It also includes many different technologies - some widely used for decades and others only recently commercialised.

Energy products include electricity, heat and liquid fuels. In the future it is possible that co-products will also feature in many bioenergy projects.

As with other forms of renewable energy, it often involves the use of fossil fuels for its production, which reduces net greenhouse gas benefits.

The bioenergy industry in Australia has the potential to grow significantly. This may be driven by:

  • Increased demand for renewable energy for stationary power and transport fuels, as Australia seeks to reduce its CO2 emissions.
  • A market response to a sustained increase in oil prices in the longer term, as demand increases and supply is constrained.
  • The development of a variety of new and existing feedstocks that optimise sustainable use of existing farmland and create new opportunities for marginal lands.

As a variety of new biofuel technologies are commercialised, biofuels could potentially make up an important part of Australia's future transport fuels. This could include ethanol, biodiesel and synthetic diesel for use in blends and as fuels in their own right.

In addition to current production via sugar, grains, tallow, used cooking oil and vegetable oils, additional fuel production could come from woody residues, new tree crops (for oil and for biomass) and algae. The potential for production of biofuels from algae could also be considered. Algae production has the potential to be linked to broader rural aquaculture initiatives.

The longer-term opportunities for bioenergy production will in part be determined by future policy direction and the best use of land resource for energy production. Bioenergy will also need to compete with other forms of renewable energy such as wind and solar, as well as other new sources of transport fuels such as coal (for electricity or liquid fuels) and natural gas.

With strong worldwide interest in bioenergy, a variety of new technologies for electricity generation and biofuel production are already being developed and commercialised overseas with significant industry investment and government support. Most of these technologies could be utilised in Australian conditions. Australian RD&E could adapt these technologies to suit local conditions and feedstocks, and assist with demonstration and commercial prototypes.

Program Aim

Bring awareness to the primary industries sector about the opportunities to engage in the bioenergy supply chain as a feedstock producer.


What is the Australian Biomass for Bioenergy Assessment (ABBA) project?

The purpose of the Australian Biomass for Bioenergy Assessment project is to:

  • Catalyse investment in the renewable energy sector by providing information about Australian biomass resources.

  • Assist in project development and decision making for new bioenergy projects.

  • Provide linkages between biomass suppliers to the end user.

The project will collect state based data about the location, volumes and availability of biomass to be displayed on the Australian Renewable Energy Mapping Infrastructure (AREMI) platform as customisable layers. 

This geospatial data will then be available to renewable energy project developers, policy makers and producers. This data will complement existing information such as energy infrastructure, power utilities, population and land use data.

The project commenced in early 2016 and will continue to develop over the next five years.

What data will be available?

Data collected will include:

  • The types, locations and volumes of existing and potential biomass resources.

  • The types, locations and volumes of existing bioenergy industries.

  • Land capability for future biomass.

Tools will be developed to provide further information relating to estimated biomass cost, availability and future biomass potential.

What are the expected benefits?

While the ABBA is aimed at growing the Australian domestic renewable energy market and associated state level investment activities, participation may also have state and regional export trade benefits.

In addition to providing biomass industry relevant data and information for the AREMI platform, the project will assist in creating market pull for bioenergy through tying bioenergy availability to biomass demand. 

The ABBA project is funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) in conjunction with the states and territories, Queensland University of Technology and the University of the Sunshine Coast. The project is being managed by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC).

For further information contact:

Rural Industries Research and Development Corporatio

Jennifer Medway, Project Manager
ph. : 0458 785 905  

Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia 

Kim Brooksbank

Sustainability Victoria 

Kelly Wickham

NSW Department of Primary Industries – Forest Science – Land and Natural Resources 

Fabiano Ximenes

RenewablesSA, Department of State Development 

Joshua Carmichael

Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation 

Phil Norman

Key contacts and links

RIRDC Program Manager

Jennifer Medway
Ph: 0458 785 905  

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All of RIRDC's current bioenergy, bioproducts and energy research projects appear here. Click on a project name for more information about that project.

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All bioenergy, bioproducts and energy research projects completed by RIRDC appear here. Click on a project name for more information about that project.

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