Biomass and baseload power: The reality of turning the electricity grid green

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If ageing coal-fired and gas power stations are the ugly stepsisters of the electricity world, most renewables are the carriage that turns into a pumpkin after midnight (or as the sun goes down).

We need more than hope and magic dust as we transition away from traditional fossil fuel generators to a new energy economy. Paramount to this transition is maintaining grid security and reliability. Renewables are the future; however, the very nature of solar and wind are intermittent. When the sun goes down or the clock strikes midnight, they tend to fall short. Not only this, but current solar generation can have adverse effects on the grid, as residents pump in excess solar energy outside peak consumption hours.

Our transition to clean energy in its current form is being negated by electrical infrastructure that remains rooted in the past. One solution that Verdant Earth Technologies is focussed on is utilising our existing timber waste to deliver 24/7 green continuous baseload power. This is an underutilised resource and should form a major part of the transition plan away from fossil fuels.

Commitments by Australia’s Energy Security Board (ESB) to design a capacity mechanism for the country’s energy market should be welcomed. It recognises the issues with intermittency and will provide support and certainty for the development of 24/7 green continuous baseload solutions, which will form the cornerstone of a 100% green grid as our coal generators retire.

Australia has significant timber residue resources that should be valued and harnessed to deliver true like-for-like replacement for retiring coal-fired generators. Utilising sustainable forestry management practices that maximise our resources with higher use of our waste is a more useful action than blanketing Sydney in smoke from back burning. The installation of a biomass boiler in Victoria that will use 2500 tonnes per annum of wood waste to generate renewable thermal energy to heat treat wooden pallets shows the potential for what can be delivered.

Able to provide reliable green baseload power to the Australian grid, bioenergy is the renewable that holds the key to the transition towards net-zero emissions. According to the Clean Energy Australia Report, Bioenergy is already producing 5% of Australia’s clean energy. With the right mechanisms introduced by the ESB it could provide even more affordable, reliable energy while balancing the rapid growth of renewables and the retirement of coal-fired energy generation.

At Verdant Earth Technologies, we believe that the inclusion of waste timber residue plants in the ESB program will provide financial certainty for new 24/7 green continuous baseload generation projects. Integral in our clean energy fairytale, they could replace our aging fleet of coal-fired generators as we move towards a 100% green grid and a happily ever after.

 

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