Study nuts out renewable energy opportunities

Thursday, 16 May, 2013

The Almond Board of Australia released the findings of its study in March, partly funded by the Australian Government, which examines ways to reduce the almond industry’s energy use by using almond waste products as fuel to generate energy.

The Minister for Resources and Energy, the Hon Martin Ferguson AM MP, congratulated the Almond Board for taking a proactive, environmentally and economically sensible approach to reducing the industry’s carbon emissions and energy costs.

“The study by the Almond Board is a step in the right direction for the industry as it identifies a pathway for the possible use of almond waste as a feedstock for renewable energy power generation,” Minister Ferguson said.

The $60,000 study, which was supported by $32,000 in funding from the Federal Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) Emerging Renewables Program, found that 20% of the industry’s husk and shell waste could be used to offset its energy demand by carefully matching it with the availability of feedstock and technology costs.

With continued growth of bioenergy forecast, the use of bioenergy for electricity generation is projected by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics to increase by 3.9% a year between 2012-13 and 2049-50. This could have a significant impact on Australia’s energy landscape through the development of diversified power supplies and continuing reduction in the nation’s carbon footprint.

“This study is an excellent start to keeping the production of almonds in step with community expectations around industry sustainability,” Minister Ferguson said.

“The study also highlights the importance of industry undertaking proper monitoring of its energy use, which will in turn help it to make energy-efficiency improvements across the almond production process.”

The Almond Board is now considering its options for implementation, which could include undertaking a site-specific feasibility study; a physical trial to better understand the technologies that can be used to turn the shell and husk feedstock into energy; and running an integrated, site-specific project to meet on-site and local supply and demand.

The Almond Board study can be found at the ARENA website.

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