Grow­ers eye the ethanol man­date

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Scott Tib­balls

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.”

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