Update – Development of a National LCA Methodology and Guidelines for Bioenergy

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is an integral element of the Australian Government’s strategy for driving the long-term transformation to a clean energy economy. ARENA was established to make renewable energy solutions more affordable and increase the amount of renewable energy used in Australia. ARENA helps fund and share information around renewable energy projects.

biofuel_smallARENA requires proponents to deliver a life cycle assessment (LCA) report to support of applications for bioenergy and biofuels projects (as per ARENA’s existing Advancing Renewables Programme Investment Plan). ARENA are in the process of developing a methodology and guidelines to provide further detail for applicants on what is required for the LCA.

The aim of the LCA methodology and guidelines are to:

  • Guide more effective decision-making by providing a ‘level playing field’ benchmark that enables ARENA to compare funding application and completed projects against each other, taking into account multiple feedstocks, conversion platforms and co‐products.
  • Support ‘due diligence’ by ensuring the projects ARENA supports are able to deliver a net benefit in terms of, for example, GHG footprint, land use changes (LUCs), social impacts and energy balance.
  • Manage the potential for reputational risk inherent in funding projects that may involve environmental and/or social sensitivities (that may often be quite geographically specific), and which go beyond carbon intensity alone.
  • Providing clarity about the proportion of a given bioenergy/biofuel project that directly relates to the output of renewable energy (versus co‐products).
  • Understanding where the innovation gaps/opportunities/’hot spots’ lie in terms of the technical maturation of novel pathways and approaches.
  • Provide a platform for more informed techno‐economic evaluation of projects.

In an effort to draw on world’s best practice, reduce duplication of methods and increase national and international consistency, a literature review was completed to establish how current LCA standards and methodologies can inform the development of an ARENA methodology and guidelines. The project team are well progressed with the guidelines project and have been heavily engaged in stakeholder dialogue over the last months with recognised LCA practitioners and bioenergy experts. A set of draft guidelines are currently being finalised, after which the intent is to take these out to the broader market for public comment, including entering into dialogue with current and past ARENA applicants. The aim is to launch the LCA guidelines by mid-2016.

Edge Environment and Life Cycle Strategies lead in this work, in consultation with Prof. Annette Cowie and Meo Carbon Solutions GmbH.

Please contact Jonas Bengtsson (Jonas@edgeenvironment.com.au) for more information on the project and how to provide input.

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