Queensland is now home to the first commercial-scale advanced biofuels pilot plant and on the cusp of a new biofuel production-based industry for the State, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

Speaking from Gladstone where the Premier officially opened the $18 million Northern Oil Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant in Yarwun, Ms Palaszczuk said she welcomed the investment by New South Wales company Southern Oil to establish the plant in Queensland.

“This plant is the start of a whole new industry for Queensland. It will take agricultural waste such as bagasse from sugar production and turn it into biofuels,” she said. “It offers to create sustainable jobs and deliver a new source of power that would have a minimum impact on our precious environment.

“We still have a long way to go to establish an internationally-competitive biofuels industry, but today is a significant milestone on that journey.”

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said the pilot plant was an investment boon for Gladstone and would be in addition to the $70 million Southern Oil Refining currently operates a waste lube oil re-refining plant. The company employs 45 full-time equivalent.

“Significantly, Gladstone is once again at the forefront of a new industry for Queensland just as we have been at forefront for the LNG industry,” he said.

The Premier said that the Queensland Government had a vision for a $1 billion sustainable, export-oriented biofuels sector. “Since coming to office, my Government has formulated a 10-year Action Plan and Roadmap to grow the industry and committed nearly $20 million to develop the biotechnology sector,” she said.

Energy and Biofuels Minister Mark Bailey said data from the first three months of the mandate show that sales of ethanol have increased by nearly 38% since this time last year. “This is a strong indication that the mandate is achieving its policy objectives to boost the Queensland fuel industry and the jobs that come with it. In the last 12 months, over 150 additional fuel sites have been upgraded to sell E10, and more are on the way as fuel sellers continue with conversion programs,” he said.

“The Queensland biofuels mandate is playing a key role in Queensland’s move to a clean energy economy while also ensuring fuel retailers continue to offer a broad range of fuel grades to maintain choice at the bowser.

“By supporting the use of biofuels we have an opportunity to drive jobs growth in regional Queensland and add value to the State’s abundant agricultural resources such as sugar cane. By attracting investment to the State’s biofuels and bio-manufacturing industry, we’re creating jobs for regional Queenslanders.”

The Palaszczuk Government’s comprehensive biofuels education campaign encouraging Queenslanders to check their vehicles’ compatibility with E10 has supported this success. To date more than half a million Queenslanders have gone online to check their vehicle’s compatibility.

At the opening, a representative of the Burdekin Cane Growers signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Southern Oil to take some of their bagasse to convert it into biofuels.

Media release Queensland Government