Construction workers will soon get the chance to build a facility that generates renewable energy for thousands of homes in North Queensland… A biorefinery that uses the fibrous remains of sugar cane to generate renewable energy for more than 28 000 homes is one step closer to becoming reality. The Queensland government has thrown its support behind the Ingham biorefinery, by giving the project a $1.17 million loan. This paves the way for construction to begin early next year in Australia’s cane-growing heartland. No small feat, considering it’s been a struggle to reach this point – following years of community backlash over the project location and financial concerns about the sugar industry not being ripe enough for investment. But the North Queensland Bio-Energy Corporation (NQBE) has now secured 235 local shareholders. The state government loan provides the final push to get the development over the line financially, before construction begins in the dry season for the $640 million project. The monumental facility will function as a renewable energy baseload power station for North Queensland, creating more than 400 construction jobs and hundreds more in operation. “When it’s up and built it will absolutely change the dynamics in the sugar industry in Queensland,” Robert Carey, NQBE chairman, told theTownsville Bulletin. “It’s probably the biggest biorefinery in the world and the biggest in Australia,” he said. Once up and running, the facility could set an example for sustainable energy generation, by producing about 430 000 tonnes of raw sugar for export and 60 million litres of fuel grade ethanol each year. The dry pulpy residue (bagasse) will also create enough electricity to run the entire factory internally. This is another tick for green energy in Queensland, putting the focus very much on sustainable construction initiatives that the global community looks set to embrace in its quest to lower our carbon footprint.
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