A bioenergy project at Cowra in central-west New South Wales, which takes the waste streams from the town and a group of farms and turn them into electricity and heat for local residents while making fertiliser from the residue, could be the first of its kind in Australia.

The biomass inputs would be waste streams including “sludge” from the Cowra waste water treatment plant, green waste from the tip, by-products of industry such as sugary water from a local food factory, paunch waste from an abattoir, soiled straw from a piggery and unusable horticulture products such as the tops of beetroots and corn trash.

These products have little or no value on their own but, when mixed with other waste streams, they can be used create valuable commodities including gas, electricity and fertiliser.

The project involves construction of a biomass plant with an initial 2 megawatt version estimated to cost around $8 million. At its full capacity the Cowra biomass project would produce an estimated 60% of Cowra’s energy needs.