Re­fin­ery to ser­vice US ‘ green fleet’

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - AN­THONY GAL­LOWAY

NORTH Queens­land is set to be­come a sus­tain­able energy hub, with plans un­der way for the de­vel­op­ment of a bio­fu­els re­fin­ery in the re­gion and a so­lar power pro­ject in Collinsville.

A bio­fu­els busi­ness has floated plans to de­velop a pro­ject in the North, cost­ing be­tween $ 100 mil­lion and $ 150 mil­lion.

Mean­while, Ratch Aus­tralia’s $ 100 mil­lion so­lar farm pro­ject is back on track in Collinsville af­ter be­ing put on hold last year.

PLANS are un­der way for a bio­fu­els re­fin­ery in North Queens­land ca­pa­ble of fuelling air­craft and US Navy ships and set to cre­ate thou­sands of jobs in the re­gion.

A lead­ing bio­fu­els busi­ness wants to de­velop an ad­vanced bio­fu­els pro­ject in the North, cost­ing be­tween $ 100 mil­lion and $ 150 mil­lion.

It comes af­ter Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk last month met Pen­tagon staff to dis­cuss us­ing bio­fuel for the US Navy’s car­rier strike group, tipped to de­ploy next year.

The force – dubbed the Great Green Fleet – is part of the US Navy’s push to power half of its fleet with al­ter­na­tive fu­els by 2020.

CommAg Ltd, a Townsville- based not- for- profit agribusi­ness in­cu­ba­tor, says it has lured a bio­fu­els tech­nol­ogy busi­ness to de­velop a re­fin­ery ca­pa­ble of meet­ing the needs of the new fleet.

“We hope to un­veil this new re­gional part­ner in the very near fu­ture,” CommAg di­rec­tor War­wick Pow­ell said.

“This com­pany utilises lead­ing tech­nolo­gies tar­get­ing the pro­duc­tion of sub­sti­tute or drop- in fu­els for avi­a­tion, mar­itime and heavy in­dus­trial ap­pli­ca­tions.

“They are al­ready work­ing with the likes of Vir­gin, GE and Air­bus as well as the Aus­tralian De­fence Force to achieve the stan­dards nec­es­sary to meet these needs.”

Mr Pow­ell said his group would present a pro­posal to the State Gov­ern­ment within the next four months, and the pro­ject could be built within the next four years. “By 2020 there

By 2020 there could be a sub­stan­tial bio­fu­els in­dus­try in Townsville and that’s pretty ex­cit­ing


could be a sub­stan­tial bio­fu­els in­dus­try in Townsville and that’s pretty ex­cit­ing,” Mr Pow­ell said.

He said the Bur­dekin or Ing­ham would be ideal lo­ca­tions to es­tab­lish the re­fin­ery. He said the pro­ject would com­ple­ment the three ethanol projects planned for the re­gion in Ing­ham, Bur­dekin and Pent­land. The Queens­land Gov­ern­ment has com­mit­ted to im­ple­ment­ing a petrol ethanol man­date.

Mr Pow­ell said his or­gan­i­sa­tion was call­ing on the Gov­ern­ment to sup­port a 10 per cent ethanol man­date, say­ing that would de­liver the kind of cer­tainty needed to se- cure fi­nance for the ethanol projects.

Port of Townsville chief ex­ec­u­tive Ra­nee Crosby said North Queens­land was per­fectly placed to es­tab­lish a bio­fu­els in­dus­try.

She said there was an op­por­tu­nity for the port to share a fa­cil­ity with the Aus­tralian De­fence Force to meet the US Navy’s needs.

“It plays to all the strengths we’ve got in the re­gion. It’s only go­ing to be­come an in­creas­ing way of the fu­ture and we should get on board early and present our face, which we are start­ing to do,” she said.

Last month, Ms Palaszczuk, who was in the US as part of a trade mis­sion, said she had re­ceived “key sig­nals” from the US Navy that they were will­ing to con­sider a deal for Queens­land to sup­ply their ships with al­ter­na­tive bio­fu­els.

Talks were in the early stages, but the Premier named Mackay and Gladstone, along with Townsville, as po­ten­tial fu­ture sites for a bio­fuel pro­duc­tion plant as part of an “al­liance” with the US Navy.

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