The revised Renewable Energy Target (RET) currently before Parliament would provide a market for otherwise unsaleable timber, according to a document from Victoria’s state-owned forestry business, VicForests, obtained by the ABC.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt introduced the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill yesterday.
The legislation locks in the bipartisan deal for a new, lower, 2020 Renewable Energy Target.
But, controversially, it reinstates the burning of native forest wood waste as a renewable energy source in the RET scheme.
“There is no evidence that its eligibility leads to unsustainable practices or has a negative impact on Australia’s biodiversity,” Mr Hunt said yesterday when introducing the bill.
“Using wood waste for generation is more beneficial to the environment than burning waste alone on the forest floor or simply allowing it to decompose and to produce methane a very high global warming potential gas.”
The changes will help hardwood timber company Australian Solar Timbers (AST) build a two-megawatt power plant that will generate electricity onsite.
AST chairman Douglas Head said timber for the plant in New South Wales’ Macleay Valley would come from existing sawmill waste that had little current value.
“There is not one new tree that would be cut. Frankly you would not cut a tree to produce electricity alone. It’s got to be cut for some other high-value use,” he said.
He said the wood by-products now potentially eligible for burning were “used sometimes as boiler fuels, potting mix, horse stable coverings and in the chicken industry, very low value”.
The VicForests document says wood could be used as a brown coal substitute, but Originally Published at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-28/ret-reinstates-wood-waste-as-renewable-energy-source/6503166