Human settlements

Renewable energy

Biomass 05: The Renewable Energy-Organic Conversion Centre

Renewable Energy Commercialisation in Australia, Australian Greenhouse Office, 2003
NOTE: The status of these projects will have changed since the time of publication, and project contacts may also have changed.

Re-OCC will process urban green waste into renewable electricity, commercial-quality charcoal and clean-burning briquettes.

Around the world, communities are looking to maximise the recovery of useful material from urban waste and minimise the environmental damage caused by the use of landfills. With the support of an $850,000 grant under the Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program, the Renewable Energy-Organic Conversion Centre (Re-OCC) is to be constructed in Canberra by Biomass Energy Services Technology (BEST). It will showcase world-leading technologies that process urban green waste into renewable electricity, commercial-quality charcoal, and clean-burning briquettes as a firewood substitute. The plant will operate as a commercial demonstration facility until a permanent operation can be established in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

Organic matter, when exposed to heat and pressure in the absence of oxygen under the earth, breaks down to form natural gas over a period of millions of years. At Re-OCC Canberra, advanced thermal gasification technology will mimic this process producing a 'synthesis' gas from green organic waste in a matter of minutes. The synthesis gas will then be used to fuel a reciprocating engine generator, delivering renewable electricity to the ACT grid. The facility will have a capacity of around 600kW, enough power for over 500 average homes.

The Re-OCC facility will process urban softwood and hardwood waste derived from the ACT Government's maintenance of street trees. A significant part of this waste that cannot be composted is buried in landfills. The Re-OCC facility will make valuable and sustainable products from this largely wasted resource and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the ACT.

There is a large winter market for firewood in Canberra, but currently there are doubts raised about the environmental sustainability of its collection, often far from the ACT, and the airborne pollution it causes can be a problem. The high-tech briquettes produced by this facility will provide a convenient and superior-performing alternative to firewood as they will produce more heat and less airborne pollution and are resistant to water and termites. At least 1000 tonnes of briquettes will be produced at the facility during the demonstration phase.

Charcoal is a high-value product used for industrial and domestic purposes in Australia, including the manufacture of silicon for solar power cells. The Canberra Re-OCC facility will demonstrate the capability of converting low-value urban green waste to high-value charcoal products.

Renewable energy is derived from sources that never run out. The organic matter consumed by the facility is replaced as trees and other plants grow, without disruption to the natural carbon cycle. Fossil fuels, such as oil, coal and natural gas, release into the atmosphere vast amounts of additional carbon that would otherwise be stored below the earth, contributing to rising global temperatures through the greenhouse effect.

For more information please contact

Stephen Joseph
Biomass Energy Services and Technology Pty Ltd
56 Gindurra Rd
Somersby NSW 2250
Tel (02) 4340 4911
Fax (02) 4340 4878

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