Cane can give us power

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

THERE has been a lot of dis­cus­sion on elec­tric­ity prices and re­new­able en­ergy sources lately.

Most peo­ple un­der­stand that the way for­ward for costs to the hip pocket and to our en­vi­ron­ment is re­new­able en­ergy elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion. In­vest­ing money in coal or gas pow­ered elec­tric­ity is only a short- term fix that will have se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions who will pick up the tab for bad de­ci­sion mak­ing.

We have rel­a­tive sta­bil­ity in our cli­mate now be­cause Mother Na­ture has stored ex­cess car­bon in the ground over mil­lions of years. Dig­ging up and re­leas­ing that car­bon can only up­set that del­i­cate bal­ance. Re­cy­cling what we have at our dis­posal makes sense to me.

At the mo­ment re­new­able en­ergy is be­ing pro­vided through a mix­ture of tech­nolo­gies, the most pop­u­lar be­ing wind and so­lar. Both of these sys­tems have stor­age and re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues. There is one re­new­able en­ergy op­por­tu­nity that is be­ing ig­nored here in Queens­land and that is the sugar cane in­dus­try. As a pro­ducer of a sweet­ener this in­dus­try con­tin­ues to stag­ger along on the edge of bankruptcy and this will not change. I be­lieve this in­dus­try should change di­rec­tion and become a re­new­able en­ergy in­dus­try by be­com­ing an elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tor only.

This would be achieved by har­vest­ing the whole crop and con­vert­ing it to ethanol which would then be used to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity through farmer owned power sta­tions. Ethanol pow­ered gen­er­a­tors are al­ready com­mer­cially avail­able and op­er­a­tional.

The ben­e­fits are not lim­ited to elec­tric­ity con­sumers as long suf­fer­ing cane farm­ers will have a sta­ble and prof­itable in­dus­try. En­ergy users will have a 24- hour en­ergy sup­ply not de­pen­dent on the weather con­di­tions and we will stop the drain of prof­its to over­seas com­pa­nies. We must em­brace in­no­va­tion and change if we want this once proud in­dus­try to sur­vive and pros­per.

All who are look­ing to im­prove the fu­ture for our chil­dren should give this pro­posal more than a pass­ing thought and en­cour­age our politi­cians and in­dus­try lead­ers to have a le­git­i­mate probe into how this can be achieved.

I think they will dis­cover elec­tri­cal en­ergy cre­ation from sugar cane de­rived ethanol will prove to be the most ef­fi­cient re­new­able en­ergy source avail­able as well as the most ben­e­fi­cial to our en­vi­ron­ment.

Once es­tab­lished, it will pro­vide all of the en­ergy re­quired to pro­duce that elec­tric­ity. This in­cludes the en­ergy to pro­duce and process the crop be­cause ethanol has now evolved to power all of our mod­ern in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines which in­clude diesels.

Let’s add sugar cane to the re­new­able en­ergy shop­ping list. ADRIAN WONE,


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