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ARENA supports Australia’s largest bioenergy project

An AU$ 800 million bioenergy project planned in Queensland, Australia has attracted early stage funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). ARENA has announced that it will provide AU$3 million support for Renewable Developments Australia (RDA) to build the business case for a renewable biofuels production facility at Pentland, near Charters Towers in North Queensland.

– The plant is designed to produce up to 350 million litres of fuel grade ethanol per annum, which would increase Australia’s production by 80 percent. The fuel is earmarked for sale under a proposed off-take agreement with a global agriculture and energy corporation and export through the Port of Townsville, commented Ivor Frischknecht, CEO, ARENA.

RDA intends to grow its own sugarcane and sweet sorghum for biofuel production. The ‘lignin’ by-product from the process would fuel a purpose built 32 MW combined heat and power (CHP) plant, with excess lignin sold as biomass pellets. This no waste approach would make the plant entirely energy self sufficient and independent of the grid while adding to the plant’s commercial viability.

ARENA’s funding will support growing and irrigation trials, due diligence activities required for financial close and preliminary work to support the procurement of engineering and construction services. If construction proceeds, it is expected to create 500 jobs during construction and up to 200 permanent positions after construction is complete. The business case is due for completion by November 2016. ARENA can recover its funding amount if the plant proceeds.


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