Northern Rivers Community Biohubs

Sustain Energy has quantified potential sources of biomass to create bioenergy, and investigated community interest in bioenergy projects in the Northern Rivers of NSW.

The project was funded by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) ‘Growing Community Energy’ Program, and Regional Development Australia – Northern Rivers.

The project aims were to investigate technical, economic and environmental considerations of potential bioenergy ‘biohub’ sites at Nimbin Valley Dairy, Casino and Murwillumbah Industrial Estate. The funding required the project to place a strong emphasis on describing community benefits of bioenergy projects 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.


What is bioenergy?

Bioenergy is a form of renewable energy that can be made from plant and animal materials.

Check out this factsheet below to find out more or click on the link to download a copy: Northern Rivers Bioenergy Background Factsheet
















Why focus on energy from biomass?

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

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[1]. 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.




Project phases

The project was 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 & 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 was completed by contractors Mark Glover, Eco Waste Strategy Development Pty Ltd, to describe potential biomass sources and energy generation technology, and community engagement specialist Dr Richard Parsons.

Bioenergy social license NR NSWInfographic social licence findings


Project contacts

To find out more about the project contact:

Natalie Meyer: Biohubs project manager

Nimbin Neighbourhood and Information Centre Manager


Tel: 02 6689 1692


Project resources

Community Survey

Workshop Flyer

Social licence for bioenergy – Prospects in the NSW Northern Rivers

Northern Rivers Biohubs ‘First Order’ Pre-Feasibility Study