By Rubina Obaid

In order to reduce greenhouse gases emission, the Australian government is encouraging energy production through renewable sources and replacing old coal-fired power generators with biomass generators.

Supplying power to homes and businesses, Australia majorly depends upon generating electricity through coal and gas fired power stations, along with that for renewable energy sources power sector also depends upon large scale hydropower plants, wind power plants and solar panels. In order to reduce greenhouse gases emission, Australian government is encouraging energy production through renewable sources. For reaching net-zero emission Hunter Energy is striving to provide baseload power 24/7 while reducing landfills and wastes along with achieving sustainable employment. The company acquired a Redbank power plant last year and plans to launch it as one of the largest renewable biomass baseload power stations in Australia. It will potentially mitigate the impact of bushfires that incurred in Australia in late 2019 while using biomass that would be used for the production of electricity.  

To replace old coal-fired power generators with biomass generators providing baseload power and significant amounts once fuel resources are established, said Hunter chief executive officer Richard Poole. He further added that using the biomass removed during hazard reduction as feedstock at a reasonable price rather than just putting it in a pile and burning it. This may reflect the efficiency of the country in optimum utilization of resources for the overall reduction of carbon emission. Redbank started its operations in 2000 as an environmental solution developed by CSIRO and Ecogen for the removal of waste coal and using it as fuel before shutting down the plant in 2014. Henceforth, restarted the plant at Warkworth, Sydney as the pioneer of waste biomass.

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The plant soon became one of the unique plants in Australia that was capable of operating on 100 percent biomass with circulating fluidised bed technology, that generates sufficient electricity to power 200,000 to 250,000 homes. Further, Hunter estimates that around $50 million are required to complete the project with Poole. The project is just getting into the furnace and requires some modification to feed the system, but plant itself can run 100 percent on  biomass adequately. The company proclaims for the project of optimum working and zero net carbon dioxide emission. According to Australia’s Renewable Energy  Act of 2000, biomass is recognized as an approved energy source that grants eligibility to Redbank for large-scale generation certificates. Whereas, currently only 0.9 percent of the Australian power sector is contributed through biomass and it is estimated to be increased by 25 to 33 percent by 2050.

These resources will gain strong edge over conventional power generation and will be a great support in smooth transition towards green energy sources. Hunter’s ambition is greater than just taking effective measures to resume Redbank plant, which is considered as one of the essential steps for reaching towards the objective of building green energy park at Redbank site. It has been projected to install a 70MW gas fired turbine which will be fueled by waste mine gas, also a 40 MW solar farm will be installed in the land adjacent to the existing plant and further installing battery facility and testing other renewable technologies for expansion and efficient transition. 

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