New South Wales project plants biomass crops for bioenergy

Around 6,000 native trees are being planted at the Tamworth Agricultural Institute in Australia as part of the Biomass for Bioenergy project.

The project, launched under the New South Wales (NSW) Primary Industries Climate Change Research Strategy, will investigate opportunities for increasing the amount of sustainable biomass use in NSW, with a focus on electricity generation.

NSW Department of Industries Research Officer Dr Fabiano Ximenes said: “Now that the region has received some much-needed rain, it’s great to see this project get underway at Tamworth.

“Approximately 6,000 trees will be planted at the institute in an area of around three hectares. The project will identify available and potential feedstocks for bioenergy generation at varying scales, with an understanding of the economic viability and social constraints.”

According to Ximenes, the planting of woody biomass crops can provide a “significant opportunity” for farmers to diversify their portfolio by using marginal areas of their farm. He added: “Dedicated biomass crops would benefit less productive areas and result in the creation of long-term job opportunities in regional NSW, across all parts of the supply chain, covering growing, harvesting, transporting and processing.”

NSW DPI Forest Science is collaborating with the Australian Tree Seed Centre to investigate the productivity of prospective biomass crops grown under a variety of conditions. The species to be planted are suitable to the Tamworth climate and include silver wattle, green mallee, Durikai mallee, blue mallee, sugar gum and river red gum.

Researchers are seeking species with fast growth, hardiness, resistance to drought and frost conditions and the potential for coppicing.

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