Will Australia beat the United States as the first nation to officially recognize biochar as a bankable carbon offset? Like here in the States, the carbon sequestered through pyrolysis is not yet recognized as tradable in Australia, but Australian mining conglomerate Alumina Ltd sees immense promise in biochar. The Syndey Morning Herald reports that Chief executive, John Bevan, recently said “[I am] not aware of any other potential large scale mitigation option that could commence capturing and storing carbon in this way within several years,” Similarly, Australian opposition party leader Malcom Turnbull “[cites] research that finds a small increase in the amount of carbon stored in soil could absorb all of the nation’s annual emissions.”
The Australian and New Zealand Biochar Researchers Network held a conference in Gold Coast, Australia at the beginning of June. It is the Network’s long-term goal “to develop and promote the use of a production guideline for the manufacture and application of sustainable biochar products.” The conference was an enormous success toward furthering this goal.
This is re:char’s dream realized down under. It is our hope that U.S. based venture capitalists, scientists, and politicians alike soon triumph the biochar cause – our planet depends on it.
It cannot go unmentioned that fueling the excitement over biochar in Australia is the very recent, very animated debate between leading climate scientist Tim Flannery, the UK Guardian journalist and blogger George Monbiot, NASA scientist James Hansen and Gaia Theorist James Lovelock.” For a fascinating synopsis of the current state of the biochar debate in Australia, read the exchanges between the aforementioned contributors on The Fifth Estate: Our Planet, Our Real Estate website.
Update on Biochar in Australian Politics
New South Wales’ Department of Primary Industries and Energy forecasts – based on extensive research “from a one-tenth scale trial” – “that a pyrolysis unit processing four dry tonnes an hour of waste from a chicken facility (mainly manure and sawdust) could yield 2.3 megawatts an hour of electricity, saleable to the grid for $750,000 a year (assuming a price of $40/MWh). Renewable energy certificates could be sold for another $1 million (assuming a price of $55 per MWh).”
Biochar seems like a home-run down under. With large agricultural and livestock industries, waste disposal is a huge issue for Australia. In addition, the nation has traditionally taken a progressive stance regarding climate change and renewables. We hope that Oz will soon join the biochar bandwagon!