Technology pathways available for energy recovery from waste in the context of a circular economy

IEA Bioenergy Task 36 held its second series of face-to-face meetings and workshops in November in Brisbane, Australia. These meetings were held in conjunction with Bioenergy Australia’s annual ‘Bioenergy Strong’ conference, and allowed the task to undertake some Australian-specific engagement activities, with a theme of bringing some global best practice to the Australian bioenergy sector.

The workshop’s focus was to consider technology pathways available for energy recovery from waste in the context of a circular economy, and to discuss what that could mean for the sector and for public/government engagement.

With this in mind the workshop was held in two parts: a closed session, where the Task explored some technical aspects of emerging products and feedstocks and how these might link in with activities being undertaken in other tasks, followed by a more open session with some invited participants.

New industry projects

The open session allowed the Task to engage with local bioenergy and CE experts from government and industry, and explore Queensland’s biofutures strategy in some detail with members of the respective government departments. The task also heard from some new industry and research projects that are demonstrating how Australia is moving towards more circular economy principles by integrating energy and materials recovery with urban waste management. A particularly interesting aspect of the workshop was a presentation reporting some recent findings considering social attitudes towards waste-to-energy projects, and some of the factors that influence public acceptance. These insights will form critical inputs to the overall work of the Task.

Task members also presented at the Bioenergy Australia ‘Bioenergy Strong’ annual conference (pictured). Perspectives from Sweden, Denmark, South Africa, and the United States were presented — these are all vital insights that the bioenergy industry in Australia can benefit from, as it seeks a greater share of the renewable energy sector.