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NSW exploring new bioenergy facility at sewage treatment plant

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Bryon Shire Council in New South Wales, Australia is exploring the feasibility of a new bioenergy facility in the area.

The proposed location for the bioenergy plant is on council property at the Byron Sewage Treatment Plant. If successful, the Byron Bioenergy Facility will be the first of its kind in Australia.

Byron Shire Council is considering a bioenergy facility that generates approximately 4 million kWh of renewable electricity – equivalent to powering 267 households every year. It will generate enough renewable energy to power the plant itself, and the Byron Bay Sewage Treatment Plant. Any excess power would be available for dispatch back into the grid.

In addition to renewable power, the facility will produce a nutrient-rich, low-carbon compost by-product for local farmland and small growers.

The council highlighted that local jobs will be created in the construction, operations and maintenance of the plant, and provide improved management of sewage biosolids. It will also save around 3,402 tonnes of CO2 per year for the council, equivalent to keeping approximately 1,030 cars off the road each year.

If it goes ahead, the bioenergy plant would reduce: the council’s use of grid electricity by 70%; the council’s costs by taking its largest electricity user (the sewage treatment plant) off-grid; the council’s total carbon emissions by over 20%, and the council’s overall electricity costs, creating the potential to increase funds for other local priorities.

The estimated cost of the facility is around $15-20 million (€9.4-12.5 million), with payback estimated at between 10 and 20 years, depending on grant funding. The council is submitting applications for federal funding and, if successful, will partially fund the project from its Sewerage Fund Capital Works Reserve.

Feedback is open on the Development Application for the construction of the facility and an Environmental Impact Statement is also available to view. This defines how the council will manage and minimise any potential impacts arising from the proposed construction of the plant. Feedback closes on 10 August.