David Sparkes, 16 October 2015

An international expert says ethanol may be a good starting point as Queensland looks to alternative fuels, but the state and nation have potential for much more advanced bioenergy industries.

Professor David Bressler is part of the Faculty of Agricultural Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Speaking at the Diversify Mackay Leadership Alliance in North Queensland, Professor Bressler said Australia had many ingredients in place to succeed in the bioenergy field.

“I think ethanol is a good start. It’s a first generation biofuel,” he said.

“What we are seeing globally though is a move in terms of science and technology being able to go past ethanol into more advanced fuels, [such as] butanol.

“So what you see is, once you build the infrastructure and you get the knowledge on how to develop these renewable fuels, it opens a pathway into much more valuable fuels, chemicals and materials.”

The Queensland Government is putting in place legislation that will mandate a level of 2 per cent ethanol in all fuel sold at the bowser.

The policy is designed to grow the state’s ethanol sector, which is small but considered by many to hold great potential.

Prof Bressler said putting a mandate, or some other government regulation, in place could be a good idea, but the most important consideration was to ensure the policy was secure for the long term.

Bioenergy comes in several forms, as Prof Bressler explained to the audience in Mackay.

He said Australia had competitive advantages if it chose to spawn new bioenergy ventures.

“What you guys [in Australia] have at your disposal, is very cheap feed stock at very large volumes, which is very important,” he said.

“You have a high-tech culture, you’ve got the infrastructure and the support in the universities to be able to support this.

“And thirdly, you have port infrastructure all through, so you can move to global markets of very large scale quite easily.

“So, you are in a perfect position to take advantage of what is happening in the carbon economy, especially with what’s happening in Paris in December [at the United Nations Climate Change Conference], and the move towards carbon strategies globally on how we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Extracted in full from ABC Rural.