The first stage engineering study is well underway, with the team at Advisian working closely with us to more fully interrogate the various technical valorisation pathways for us, in light of achieving ‘highest value recovery’ from the cereal straw as a resource. Some early insights based on initial work include that:
- A biogas production system via an anaerobic digestion pathway is promising, scalable and relatively low risk but cereal straw alone would need to be mixed with some other form of substrate e.g. animal manure, sewage, putrescible food waste etc in order for this to work effectively (it is a ‘wet’ processing pathway). This would mean sourcing additional waste material from the region and beyond (likely Ballarat and western Melbourne).
- From an efficiency and handling perspective, short term (<12 months) and long term (>12 months) storage options may influence the technical design, with a possibility to look at having some activity taking place at distributed aggregation/storage depots e.g. modular biochar production, while centralising the renewable gas, electricity and/or heat production. Modelling of various scenarios is currently underway.
- Based on the Victorian Government’s proposed ‘renewable energy zones’, there may be a price premium that could be leveraged for ‘firm’ (“baseload”) electricity output with our location well situated smack bang in the middle of the proposed ‘Western Victoria’ zone.