Andrew Lang, a farmer and current president of the Victorian Bioenergy Network, is excited about the prospects of using waste agricultural material for creating bio-energy, at every scale.
He said the potential is enormous, with one CSIRO report in 2012 suggesting that up to 9pc of Australia's power needs could come from the most economically available straw in just the main cropping regions.
Mr Lang has spent ten years on the board of the World Bio-Energy Association, during which time time he has seen through energy plants operations in Europe and Scandinavia.
There, the concept of turning straw from winter cereal crops, both as pellets and big square bales, into heat, power and transport biofuels, is a reality.
"The Danes have been using baled straw for heat and power for many decades, and pelleted straw in volume since maybe 2008. Due to legislation passed in 1993, Denmark now uses about one million tonnes of straw for power production annually, with maybe as much going into heat production only, and most recently into production of fuel ethanol and biomethane," he said.
"Other countries like Spain, the UK and India have also adopted the concept, and now since 2006 China is the world's largest user of straw for power."
In light of his experience, Mr Lang said it was unfortunate the residual straw after winter harvest is neglected in this country.
"There is a clear opportunity for farmers to turn the straw in their windrows into a valuable by-product for energy production," he said.
"But unfortunately it doesn't yet seem to be a part of the federal government's thinking about renewable energy."
Mr Lang pointed to the small western Victorian town of Skipton where the local hospital and nursing home where, from about June this year, all water and space heating will be by pelletised straw, totally replacing LPG.
'In this example, the hospital has a lower heating bill, the local farmers make cash from what they currently just burn, and the money stays in the local economy. This is one example of what can be done far more widely," he said.
Mr Lang will be one of the key note speakers during the forthcoming National Renewables in Agriculture conference to be held in Dubbo on 19 May 2021.
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