Farm waste to fuel
The first sod was turned this month in Moira Shire, Central Victoria, on Australia’s first renewable energy facility that will generate carbon neutral energy and fuel from agricultural waste.
Moira Shire Mayor, Libro Mustica welcomed the $2 billion investment by Australian renewable energy company, AgBioEn, which is expected to bring benefits to local communities in the region of around $500 million to local businesses and contractors.
“We are excited to have AgBioEn building its first facility here in Moira Shire. Not only will AgBioEn create an abundance of new local jobs, and add to the already growing green energy sector but they will also bring an uplift in economic activity.”
The facility is expected to be operational by 2021 and will be a key part of Australia’s first large scale, fully integrated renewable energy business operation.
The 80 percent Australian owned company will incorporate world class technology to process organic waste materials (biomass), such as cereal straw, to produce electricity, high quality renewable diesel and jet fuel, fertiliser and food grade CO2.
AgBioEn Program Director, Lubey Lozevski, said up to 1000 jobs would be created, and approximately 75,000ha of land would be required by 2023 to supply biomass for the facility.
“All agricultural land used to supply biomass to the facility will also be used to cultivate food crops. It is a priority for AgBioEn that no agricultural land is taken away from food cultivation to create fuel.”
Next door to the facility is hydroponic tomato farm, Katunga Fresh.
Owner Peter van den Goor said his business would be one of the first local companies to receive renewable energy and fuels for their existing 16ha of glasshouses, and allow them to expand their business with another 5ha glasshouse being developed in 2020.
“This new source of renewable energy and fuels will enable another 40ha of glasshouses to be constructed during the next four years.”
AgBioEn Chairman, Charles Hunting, said, “Producing cost effective renewable energy and fuels at Katunga will allow local businesses to expand and also offer multi-industry benefits including providing a supply chain that is net carbon negative.”
“For example, in addition to satisfying local energy needs, AgBioEn will be able to supply renewable diesel for local transportation and bio-jet fuel for the aviation industry along with other by-products of the process like food grade CO2.
AgBioEn projections expect to provide savings of greater than 450,000 tonnes (measured in tCO2e) of greenhouse gas emissions per year compared to fossil fuel equivalent.