Sugar in­dus­try holds green en­ergy prom­ise

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Shane Nichols

IT might be a pipe dream for now but one day Dou­glas Shire might be the “green­est and clean­est” shire in the na­tion.

The use of re­new­able fu­els to power Port Dou­glas and Moss­man and much of the rest of the shire was a re­cur­rent idea in the in­au­gu­ral Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil’s busi­ness fo­rum on Thurs­day.

Key­note speaker Prof Ross Gar­naut vis­ited the area re­cently at the in­vi­ta­tion of sugar in­dus­try fig­ure Bill Phillip­sTurner.

Prof Gar­naut, who wrote a ma­jor pa­per on cli­mate change, made se­ri­ous men­tion of the re­new­able en­ergy po­ten­tial for the shire in his ad­dress.

He said Aus­tralia was ex­tremely well placed. “Per per­son, our re­new­able en­ergy sources are very rich.”

The sugar in­dus­try gives the op­por­tu­nity to use waste as a re­new­able en­ergy source, a closed sys­tem that doesn’t pol­lute.

He said turn­ing away from fos­sil fu­els could pro­vide cheaper en­ergy, as well as jobs. And there were other sources such as so­lar and wind to add to bio-fu­els in the al­ter­na­tive en­ergy mix.

As a pan­el­list at the fo­rum Bill Phillips-Turner said “with the right eco­nomic driv­ers and in­vest­ment, ex­panded co­gen­er­a­tion at the Moss­man Mill could re­sult in a much greater pro­por­tion of the town’s power be­ing gen­er­ated by the mill for much greater pe­riod of time.

“And then by work­ing in con­cert with a range of other al­ter­na­tive, re­new­able en­ergy gen­er­a­tion such as PVS [so­lar pan­els], wind, bat­tery stor­age etc we could ac­tu­ally see the Dou­glas Shire go 100 per cent green in en­ergy. The state has been push­ing both bio­fu­els and bio in­dus­try strate­gies. Our sugar in­dus­try could – and ab­so­lutely should – be part of that in­no­va­tion for the fu­ture.”

Mr Phillips-Turner later told the that Dou­glas Shire was uniquely placed to take ad­van­tage of re­new­able fu­els.

It is bor­dered by two World Her­itage ar­eas whose pris­tine qual­i­ties are the ba­sis of an enor­mous tourism in­dus­try. It is vir­tu­ally the end of the line of ex­ist­ing con­ven­tional power trans­mis­sion, which means a lo­cal power sup­ply is likely to be more re­li­able and stable. And it has the sugar in­dus­try.

“Sugar is a sexy in­dus­try,” Mr Phillips-Turner said. “Many peo­ple don’t ap­pre­ci­ate from the en­vi­ron­men­tal point of view what the sugar in­dus­try can do – and does do. You’ve al­ways got to look at other op­por­tu­ni­ties for sugar and you’ve got all th­ese other biprod­ucts – mo­lasses, ethanol, bio plas­tics, all th­ese things.

“It has to stack up from a busi­ness point of view but I think the shire is in a unique po­si­tion.”

One of the pos­i­tive ben­e­fits of a “green shire” is its ap­peal to eco-minded tourists. The green cre­den­tials of a des­ti­na­tion are of­ten a crit­i­cal fac­tor in peo­ple de­cid­ing where they will hol­i­day.

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