Agriculture is an opportunity for waste to energy technology. With these technologies farmers can more efficiently manage their waste, produce fertiliser by-products and create new income streams for farms. New income streams include the expansion of agricultural production and the sale of gas, energy or by-products produced on farm.
Unlike municipal waste, waste from agriculture, food processing and sewage are ideal inputs into waste to energy facilities. These wastes tend to be homogenous and are ideal candidates for waste to energy technology.
As well as the incentives for investment there are also challenges which need to be investigated before a large number of facilities gain approval. These include: the biosecurity implications, the current cost of disposal and the effect an increase in diffuse renewable energy generation will have on the electricity network.
Currently, the largest barrier to implementation is the high capital cost of these projects. For this reason, we believe government grants are the most effective government incentive to encourage waste to energy project implementation.
Waste to energy technologies can achieve waste management, greenhouse gas emission reductions and renewable energy generation. In order to shape the growth of the waste to energy industry and minimise perverse incentives, the government needs to clearly state which of these outcomes their top priority for waste to energy projects is.
Summary of Recommendations
1. The State Government to clarify for all levels of government, proponents and responsible authorities, what is more important when evaluating a waste to energy scheme or facility; waste management, emission reduction or generating renewable energy.
2. The State Government to work with industry to better quantify waste to energy opportunities on farm.
3. The State Government should commit resources to gaining more knowledge about how these technologies can be applied to agriculture and in the food processing sectors.
4. The State Government should investigate how biosecurity can be considered, where necessary and appropriate, for the development of waste to energy facilities.
5. The State Government undertake a study into the future operation of the electricity network, given predictions regarding future generation.