Additional funding for the NR Biohubs project

Regional Development Australia Northern Rivers (RDA-NR) have contributed $40,000 to the ‘Northern Rivers Biohubs project’.

The Sustain Energy working group established the project with the aim of quantifying potential sources of biomass and testing the suitability of bioenergy technology.

The project received $40,000 in funding from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) ‘Growing Community Energy’ Program to investigate technical, economic and environmental considerations of potential ‘biohub’ sites at Nimbin Valley Dairy and Casino. The funding requires the project to place a strong emphasis on describing community benefits such as potential ownership, investment and participation models, and the establishment of a ‘social licence’ or demonstrated community support to use biomass in energy production.

The project is led by Nimbin Neighbourhood and Information Centre, on behalf of Sustain Energy.

With the additional funds from RDA-NR, the project steering committee have opted to expand the project scope to investigate a potential biohub site based around the Murwillumbah industrial estate, and other nearby sources of biomass.

Why focus on energy from biomass?

The focus on bioenergy stems from years of background investigations and stakeholder engagement by the Sustain Energy working group.

Strong stakeholder interest in bioenergy opportunities has emerged during the four North Coast Energy Forums that have been held in Northern Rivers’ centres since 2010.

In 2012 Sustain Energy received OEH funding to complete a preliminary study into the potential of bio-energy in the Northern Rivers. The study noted the region’s strong commitment to transitioning to local sustainable energy, and a range of industry sectors that produce waste suitable for bioenergy plant feedstock such as agriculture, food processing and forestry.

Northern Rivers’ biohub project phases:

The project will be broken down into the following stages:

  1. Identify stakeholders, define their criteria for success & commitment to any resultant project.
  2. Identify biomass resources and available technology for three specific sites, and the suitability of establishing a biomass processing ‘hub’ at these sites.
  3. Assess on site demand for bioenergy and other bio-products that such facilities could manufacture.
  4. Synthesise the collected data, information and opinions into a project/facility functional layout and process flow.
  5. Assess/develop community benefit/investment business models for each case.
  6. Develop a business case for each bio hub. This will then be used to attract combinations of community / cooperative / business investment into the project/s.
  7. Develop and implement a process to build social licence for bio-energy in the Northern Rivers.

Work will be completed by contractors. Mark Glover, Eco Waste Strategy Development Pty Ltd, has been contracted to:

  • Map and assess potential biomass supplies in the region.
  • Identify and collate potential “Bioenergy” project markets and opportunities in the region.

Expressions of interest have recently closed to identify suitable community engagement specialists to fulfil the community consultation component of the project.

For more information, contact Natalie Meyer, Project Manager, at admin@nnic.org.au

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