Pyrenees Shire wins national Bioenergy Award

Published on 23 October 2018

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Pyrenees Shire Council was awarded top honours at the inaugural Bioenergy Innovation Awards dinner in Brisbane last Wednesday for its large-scale collaborative project which focussed on converting straw and straw pellets to energy.

Pyrenees Shire Council won the Community Leadership Award for a project to convert farm stubble into straw pellets, which then could be used to generate energy for small rural manufacturers and health services.

Pyrenees Shire Mayor David Clark said the project began two years ago when nine local grain farmers identified straw pellets manufactured from residual crop straw as a potential energy source.

“We’re delighted that a small local project involving local partnerships has been recognised by Bioenergy Australia and top researchers across the bioenergy field,” Cr Clark said.

The straw pellet project partnership included nine farmers, Regional Development Victoria, City of Ballarat, Cultivate Agribusiness Central Highlands and Pyrenees Shire Council.

Cr Clark said the group was currently investigating new technology for a mobile straw pellet machine, which has the ability to decrease production costs to convert straw into pellets and make straw pellets competitive as an energy supply.

 “We believe this model, once up and running, could be replicated in other small rural wheat-belt towns and help boost rural and regional economies through an alternative energy source. The project is a win for the environment and for the agricultural community,” he said.

Bioenergy Australia CEO Shahana McKenzie said: “The power of collaborative enthusiasm and effort to get a community of stakeholders to not only plan together but to get a project up and running was impressive.”

“Bioenergy is the subject of considerable interest and investment worldwide, due to its enormous potential to reduce carbon emissions and drive a more sustainable energy future. The five awarded projects challenge the status quo of the energy sector, build on the early pioneering work and showcase the potential for Australia to be a world-class bioenergy player.”

The straw pellet project follows on from the successful local installation of a wood chip heating system at the Beaufort hospital in 2014, replacing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as a source of the hospitals hydronic heating. The group is now looking at opportunities to develop a straw-based bioenergy plant to power Skipton hospital.

Pictured from left: Project consultant Daryl Scherger, Pyrenees Shire Manager Economic Development & Tourism Ray Davies, award sponsor Neil Rae from Ecotech Biodiesel.