Growers eye the ethanol mandate
LOCAL cane farmers could be set to benefit from the ethanol biofuel mandate, which the state government has stipulated must comprise 3 per cent of petrol sales from major fuel retailers each quarter.
Ethanol, which can be produced as a byproduct of molasses, is mixed with regular unleaded petrol to create E10 petrol, which is 10 per cent ethanol and 90 per cent unleaded petrol. Ethanol can also be created using other grains.
Mossman cane farmer Don Murday told the that with the past introduction of E10 in Queensland and the 3 per cent biofuel mandate, cane farmers looking to diversify their income could benefit.
“Diversifying our income is very important, because we’re too reliant on the raw sugar price. It fluctuates like all hell,” he said.
Mr Murday explained that ethanol production had been within reach for the Mossman Mill years ago, but negotiations fell apart at the 11th hour, denying the region a more diversified and durable economy.
“In the northern mills there’s an opportunity to make ethanol out of molasses, but there’s not a great desire by the Australian milling sector to do it. There never has been from day one. It’s always been driven by the growers looking for a more diverse cash stream.”
Mr Murday, who has been involved with trying to promote ethanol for years, said that over the decades Australian Governments had been slow to appreciate the economic and environmental benefits. “It’s been very difficult in Australia because the fuel lobby is so powerful, and nowhere in the world has the ethanol industry started without there being some sort of government mandate for ethanol usage.”
Mr Murday said that while it was good that the Queensland Government was slowly coming on board with ethanol and providing the opportunity for cane farmers to benefit, ultimately it all came down to market forces.
“I’m sure the community would use it. There’s problems in distributing it right throughout the state. Cairns had quite a few stations with E10 ... for one small outlet it probably is expensive or difficult.
“At the end of the day it’s got to be price competitive otherwise people aren’t going to use it.”