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    Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and Minister for Trade
    The Honourable Stephen Robertson

    Bligh sweetens Mackay’s clean energy future with $9 million investment

    Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and Minister for Trade
    The Honourable Stephen Robertson

    Thursday, June 18, 2009

    Bligh sweetens Mackay’s clean energy future with $9 million investment

    Up to 30 per cent of Mackay’s annual electricity supply may be generated through an innovative local sugar mill project, Mines and Energy Minister Stephen Robertson said today.

    Mr Robertson said the Bligh Government is investing $9 million in Mackay Sugar’s planned energy cogeneration project at its Racecourse Sugar Mill and refinery near Mackay.

    “This is an innovative, clean energy project that will deliver important benefits for Mackay, the region’s sugar industry and the environment,” he said.

    “It’s Q2 at its best and that’s why the Bligh Government is backing this project with a $9 million grant from the Queensland Renewable Energy Fund.”

    Member for Mackay Tim Mulherin said Mackay Sugar plans to replace existing plant at the Racecourse Mill to generate enough clean, renewable power each year to achieve energy self-sufficiency and export electricity to the local grid.

    “A new steam turbine generator to be installed at the mill will use bagasse (stored sugar cane waste) more productively than its traditional use in low efficiency boilers,” Mr Mulherin said.

    “When operational, the plant will deliver 65 megawatts of thermal power to the Racecourse sugar mill and refinery; achieving energy self-sufficiency for the facility.

    “At the same time, it will deliver 27 megawatts of clean renewable energy to the Mackay city electricity network continuously for 50 weeks a year.

    “That’s approximately 30 per cent of the city’s current electricity consumption.

    “It means we will replace electricity produced using fossil fuels with clean renewable energy.

    “That’s a win for the environment because this carbon-free energy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 200,000 tonnes each year.”

    Mr Robertson said the Mackay Sugar cogeneration project may also prove an important contributor to the long term viability and competitiveness of the sugar industry in the region.

    “In these tough economic times, the sugar industry is seeking opportunities to combine production of sugar and renewable energy through cogeneration, reduce costs, and diversify into complementary production such as ethanol.

    “The Mackay Sugar project offers a significant opportunity to drive the growth of renewable energy use and production in the sugar mills of regional Queensland.

    “It solves many of the common challenges with innovations in boiler efficiency through higher steam levels, plus better management of bagasse stockpiles that will help reduce costs.

    “It also means the mill plant can generate electricity all year round rather than just during the sugar crushing season.

    “If successful, the Racecourse Mill project will provide opportunities for this approach to be adopted at other sugar mills throughout Queensland,” he said.

    Mackay Sugar anticipates the new cogeneration plant at the Racecourse Mill should be ready for commissioning in 2012.

    Media contact:

    Minister’s office: 3224 7332