Bioenergy facility

We are moving ahead with an exciting and innovative vision for Australia’s first Bioenergy facility to be built at the Byron Bay Sewage treatment plant in the near future.

We have a viable design and facility plan and an approved DA (Development Application) and are now seeking funding from State and Federal Government programs to bring this vision to life.

We want a Bioenergy facility for the Byron Shire because it offers a longer-term and more environmentally sustainable solution for managing organic waste and generating our own renewable energy.

Climate Emergency

We declared a Climate Emergency for the Byron Shire in 2018 and we’ve been exploring every option to reduce Council’s own emissions, and contribute back to the grid ever since.

What we know is that Bioenergy facilities have been operating successfully around the world for decades and have a long track record of cost-effectively reducing carbon emissions, improving energy productivity and growing regional jobs.

Funding model

Our proposed funding model would mean that our Bioenergy Facility would pay itself off over time and there would be no increase in rates passed on to Byron Shire ratepayers - just the benefits of bringing this game-changing, renewable energy solution to our community.

Bioenergy is converting organic waste into clean and green renewable energy. It’s known as a closed-loop carbon cycle, because the carbon created will end up as plant matter and stays within the system. 

Dry anaerobic digestion uses oxygen-free conditions to break down organic matter inside a contained facility. The resulting biogas is converted into energy. 

Dry anaerobic digestion of organic waste DOES NOT use burning or incineration in the digestion process.  Bioenergy facilities use biomethane as a renewable fuel for electricity generation and have a lower carbon emissions footprint than composting.

The Byron Bioenergy Facility would NOT USE forestry waste.

These are the steps in the bio-energy process.

  1. Organic waste is collected and broken down. 
  2. Gases are contained and captured.
  3. Then the gases are converted into renewable energy.
  4. This results in green energy, a compost product and carbon emission reduction.

The infographic steps out this process. 

A graphic stepping out the bio energy process. Alternative description is available on the web page.

We are considering a bioenergy facility that generates:

  • 24/7 dispatchable and controllable renewable energy 365 days a year.
  • Approximately 3 to 4 million kilowatt-hours of renewable electricity. The equivalent of powering over 250 households per year. 
  • Enough renewable energy to power the facility itself, and the Byron Bay Sewage Treatment Plant. Any excess would be available for dispatch back into the grid.
  • A nutrient-rich compost for local farmlands, small growers and residents in the Region.

It creates:

  • Local jobs created in the construction, operations and maintenance.
  • Local processing facility for residential, agricultural and commercial organic waste. 
  • Local solution to waste management, reducing truck movements and distances travelled across the region.
  • Improved management of sewage biosolids.
  • Significant reductions in atmospheric carbon emissions in the Shire and the Region.. 
  • A case study for others to follow in the search for future energy solutions while helping Byron Shire Council, NSW State and Australian Federal Governments meet renewable energy targets.

It reduces:

  • Council’s use of grid electricity by up to 70%.
  • Council's costs by taking its largest electricity user, Byron Bay Sewage Treatment Plant off-grid.
  • Council’s total carbon emissions significantly.
  • Council's overall electricity costs, creating the potential to increase funds for other local priorities.
  • Landfilling of organics.
  • The number of truck movements and distances travelled across the region, further reducing carbon emissions and impact on air quality and local roads.
  • Australia's dependence on fossil fuels.

We are considering this renewable energy project with the intention that there is no increase in rates for Byron Shire ratepayers. 

The estimated cost of the facility is approximately $20-25 million with payback estimated at between 10-20 years, dependent on grant funding.

We are submitting applications for Federal funding and, if successful, will partially fund the project from its Sewerage Fund Capital Works Reserve. 

We are considering this investment because it offers a:

  • secure cash flow that could potentially save ratepayers money in the future (generating long term sources of compost as well as renewable energy generation).
  • longer term and more environmentally sustainable solution for managing organic waste and generating renewable energy. 

Councillors will consider the preferred option/s for financing and operation of the facility based upon the business case risks (compared to present business-as-usual conditions) and any issues that may affect Council and its ratepayers.


Aerobic composting - oxygen, open-air, compost

Aerobic composting requires oxygen to decompose organic waste via naturally occurring micro-organisms. This process produces heat, water, carbon dioxide and small amounts of methane and nitrous oxide.

Aerobic composting uses grid electricity to power the aeration of decomposing organic waste. Composting is great, but it still causes greenhouse gas emissions. Aerobic composting, while far better than landfilling, does consume transport fuel and grid electrical energy.

Dry anaerobic digestion - no oxygen, contained, compost + renewable energy, closed loop carbon cycle

Dry anaerobic digestion decomposes organic waste in oxygen-free conditions. The organic waste produces carbon dioxide and bio-methane.

The bio-methane can be used to generate renewable energy for storage or redistribution, ie. a closed-loop carbon cycle. There are very little fugitive emissions since the entire process is contained in enclosed structures and gases are collected for appropriate handling.

In summary

Both aerobic composting and dry anaerobic digestion produce valuable compost products and both produce approximately the same amount of physical carbon dioxide gas emissions. However, dry anaerobic digestion also produces a renewable energy source and as a result, has a lower carbon footprint overall. 


No. The methane and carbon dioxide produced from the dry anaerobic digestion process are contained inside a pressure controlled facility. The biogas is not released into the atmosphere, so the environment is unharmed. 

The biogas is contained, collected and converted to renewable energy for using, storing or sending back into the electricity grid. 

In February and March 2021, we asked for feedback from the community.

This helped to inform the project and the social impact assessment portion of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Development Application. 

There was an overwhelming 95% support for the project in community surveys.