Australia’s sugar mills are almost self-sufficient in energy. By burning the fibrous cane by-product, bagasse, mills generate electricity and steam to power all factory operations.
Over 50% of the electricity produced is exported to the national grid – currently providing clean, green electricity to over 70,000 Queensland households. The recently completed co-generation facility at MSF Sugar’s Arriga Mill, located near Mareeba in Far North Queensland will add 24 megawatt hours of electricity – enough to power over 4,000 homes (see ABC Landline feature from 14 October 2018 here). The facility represents a $75m investment
The by-product from the crushing of sugarcane, bagasse is recycled and used as boiler fuel in the sugar mills. It is burned at temperatures of up to 400 C to produce steam, which is either used as heat for the milling process or to drive turbines that generate electricity. This process is called co-generation.
Sugar mills generate over a quarter (27%) of Queensland’s renewable energy, which meets more than 2% of Australia’s large scale renewable energy target.
One truck load of bagasse stores enough energy to power two Queensland homes for more than a year.