Josh Dutton, 30 October 2015

THE State Government is ramping up the push for biofuel production in hopes of creating a $1.8 billion industry.

Under the State Government’s biofuel mandate, if successful, E10 will make up 20 per cent of fuel sales after July next year.

The move towards the clean energy economy is being bolstered by a project between Asahi Holdings and Queensland University of Technology to develop a way to yield more ethanol from sugar cane.

QUT’s Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities Associate Professor Ian O’Hara said the technology, if commercialised, could lead to “very big opportunities” for Queensland agribusiness.

“This follows two years of joint research and we’re preparing to head into the next phase,” Prof O’Hara said.

“Asahi are well known for excellent beer, and this is a different field for them with energy and sustainability outcomes.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk recently visited QUT’s Mackay Bio Pilot Plant and said that the project had enormous potential for Queensland’s biofuel ­industry.

“This is a very significant decision (between QUT and Asahi) for Queensland’s biofuels industry and has the potential to dramatically advance the take-up of bio­fuels from sugarcane,” Ms Palaszczuk said. “There is enormous potential for Queensland to develop a sustainable biofuels industry and my Government is committed to unlocking all the opportunities available to our state.”

She said the state could also one day provide energy alternatives for the US Navy. “During my talks at the Pentagon in Washington DC we discussed the role Queensland could play in the US Navy’s goal of meeting half its energy needs from alternative sources by 2020,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Prof O’Hara said the agreement was “globally significant” and would lead to jobs growth in regional Queensland.

A report released by Deloitte and QUT said the bio-manufacturing industry had the potential to generate $1.8 billion and create more than 6000 jobs by 2035. It would push Queensland a step closer to Brazil, the global leader in biofuel, which currently has only premium fuel with ethanol under 25 per cent.

Canegrowers Queensland chairman Paul Schembri said the outcomes of the research were positive and supported an increase in the yield.

“Our industry relies on research and development,” Mr Schembri said.

“Without seeing the technology at work it will help with lots of expensive inputs into growing cane and we welcome any further ­research.”

Extracted in full from the Courier Mail.