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Based in Victoria, Australia, the Hermal Group is engaged in a range of timber and forestry production sites, including a $190 million timber mill in Burnie, Tasmania. As an allied industry to our timber businesses, we are heavily investing in the development of a BIO- ENERGY plant capable of generating electricity from the Bio-Mass waste of forestry industries. Not only will these energy plants reduce forestry operational electricity costs to nil, they will also add significant capacity to inject superior, dispatchable, baseload renewable energy into the network at times of high network demand and periods of high value power.

Significant quantities of heat are also available for the drying of timber and wood products, as well as for the other co-located food and industrial heat energy requirements.

BIO-ENERGY is an effective, efficient, low to zero or even negative carbon footprint renewable energy source offering enormous economic and environmental potential benefits.

Our current analysis, which examined the production and application of BIO-FUEL within the forestry sector, found a range of opportunities from the displacement of electricity from the electricity grid to participating in the National Energy Market through the sale of electricity generated by a BIO-ENERGY plant.

Considering the Bio-Mass waste available across a range of real world applications, opportunities for BIO-ENERGY plants ranging from 1 MW to 33 MW were found. Projects which utilise wood waste from timber processing facilities and commercial plantations result in BIO-ENERGY plants on the smaller side of the range where projects which can combine Bio-Mass wastes result in larger projects.  The economic benefits are directly related to the logistics.

This is a unique opportunity for plantation, forestry and production facilities in the timber industry to utilise and profit from their wood waste on-site compared with being left with a burden to remove the waste. The economic benefits would enable self-sufficient energy production, reducing load on the broader energy grid as well as improving the facilities own green credentials.

The BIO-FUEL can be manufactured on site where Bio-Mass waste is produced, alternatively, Bio-Mass waste can be collected and transported to a central hub close by.

The results of the current analysis provide valuable insights into the potential for generating electricity from Bio-Mass for trading within the National Energy Market.

A limitation of the findings presented relate to the energy prices used as they have been derived from historical energy spot prices without accounting for changes in future spot prices. Further research is required to account for the addition of renewable energy generation to meet Australia’s emissions reduction targets and demand side management, uptake in energy storage technologies, retirement of aging generation fleet or other market forces.

In collaboration with Monash University, the Hermal Group is currently undertaking a series of research and development projects relating to the properties of the BIO-FUEL and its use in and the configuration of a BIO-ENERGY plant. The results of this research will further refine and inform the current results to provide insights to industry participants.

Building upon the findings of this research, the Hermal Group is working together with the timber industry to develop a business case for the implementation of BIO-ENERGY plants in scalable pant sizes to meet the waste and the energy needs of any forestry or sawmill facility.

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