Utilizing locally available bioresources for powering remote Indigenous communities: A framework and case study

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We establish a framework to examine the feasibility of using local vegetation for bioenergy power systems in small-scale applications and remote settings. The framework has broad application, and we present a specific case here to demonstrate the process. Our case study is the Tiwi Islands in northern Australia, where a large Acacia mangium plantation is a potential source of biofuel feedstock. Two types of technology were considered: 1. Bio-oil from pyrolysis in diesel generators and 2. Direct combustion coupled with a steam turbine. The biomass was characterized and found to have adequate properties for an energy crop, with a lower heating value of about 18 MJ/kg and entire tree ash content of 2 %. Measurements from trees that were damaged from wildfires had similar results, showing potential value recovery for a plantation after unplanned fire. In comparison to a petroleum diesel-based generator, the bio-oil system was 12 % more expensive. The direct combustion system was found to be the most economical of those explored here, costing as low as 61 % of the bio-oil system. Additional social and environmental benefits were identified, including local employment opportunities, improved energy security and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Our findings of high tech-no-economic potential of bioenergy systems, especially through direct combustion, are widely applicable to on-demand renewable energy supply in remote communities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number666
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2023


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