Home / Sugar News / Harness Queensland sugar mills’ carbon abatement potential | 9 November 2021

Harness Queensland sugar mills’ carbon abatement potential | 9 November 2021

The Queensland sugar industry has the potential to significantly assist Australia’s transition to net-zero emissions, the Australian Sugar Milling Council said today.

The Queensland sugar industry has the potential to significantly assist Australia’s transition to net-zero emissions, the Australian Sugar Milling Council said today.

ASMC Chief Executive Officer, Rachele Sheard, said “Queensland sugar mills already have 438 MWs of cogeneration capacity, generating 900,000 megawatt hours (MWhs) of renewable electricity per annum. Reducing 700,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide-is the equivalent (CO2-e) of removing emissions of about 150,000 standard vehicles from our atmosphere.

“Queensland sugar mills manufacture raw sugar for refining into white sugar for consumption in homes and in industry both here and abroad, but few Queenslanders would know that these mills are also generating green power and could substantially increase this output. Around 50% of this power is supplied to the grid and the balance to the milling operations. The half that is equivalent to powering all the homes in Bundaberg and Mackay,” Rachele Sheard said.

Further, if Queensland 4% ethanol target were to be met, the sector would achieve even greater CO2 abatement through E10 fuel sales right now.

Rachele Sheard said expert analysis has found Queensland sugar mills could substantially increase their cogeneration under the right conditions.

“With Queensland set to commence the retirement of its coal-fired power stations towards 2028 it is important that we start to plan for these changes and consider how we are going to keep the lights on and supply our energy-intensive industries. Replacing some of this aging capacity with
co-generation from bagasse that is both renewable and baseload offers a strong economic and environmental solution for the state.

Growing the cogeneration could lead to potential new investment that will stimulate regional Queensland economies. The added benefit of co-gen supply is that it is synchronous, meaning it will shore up reliability and security of the grid and assist with addressing the intermittent supply associated with wind and solar power supply,” said Rachele Sheard

“Further, Green Energy Markets in late 2020 estimated that the gap to achieve Queensland’s 50% by 2030 renewable energy target was 2.9 million MWs. Additional co-generated power could make a significant contribution to this target.

“For an industry that already delivers $4 billion in economic activity and supports 23,000 jobs in regional areas, the potential to deliver additional
co-generated power, regional investment and CO2-e abatement makes the industry an economic and environmental powerhouse,”

said Rachele Sheard

“For an industry that already delivers $4 billion in economic activity and supports 23,000 jobs in regional areas, the potential to deliver additional co-generated power, regional investment and CO2-e abatement makes the industry an economic and environmental powerhouse,” Rachele Sheard said.

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021.

-ENDS-

For more information, please contact: Rachele Sheard, CEO, 0408 777 898

Notes to Editor

  • Mills use the cane fibre by-product of sugar manufacturing called bagasse to generate electricity for the mill to use and to export renewable electricity to the national electricity grid.
  • Molasses from sugar manufacturing is used to produce ethanol which is blended with petrol and sold as E10.
  • Sugar is one of Australia’s largest agricultural exports, with a total annual revenue of almost $2 billion.  Around 95% of sugar manufactured in Australia is produced in Queensland with the remainder in northern New South Wales. Australia exports more than 80% of its raw sugar to buyers overseas, placing it among the top five raw sugar exporters in the world.
  • ASMC is the peak body representing the interests of raw sugar manufacturers. ASMC represents five sugar manufacturing companies which collectively produce 90 percent of Australia’s raw sugar at their 16 sugar mills in Queensland.
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