By Simon WilliamsUK’s first new coal-fired power station has been commissioned and a new model of bioenergy has been approved by the UK’s Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
Acacia Energy is one of the first UK-based biofuel producers to get approval to sell electricity from a new source to the UK grid.
The plant has a capacity of 590MW and is being built in Cairns, Queensland.
Acacia says it aims to become Australia’s largest biofuel producer by 2020.
It is the first of several major Australian biofuel projects, including the Cairn Power Station and the Lachlan Power Station, in Queensland and South Australia, to be awarded approvals to sell power.
This is the latest milestone in the push to move away from coal, and an example of Australia’s “green revolution”, as energy minister Greg Hunt put it.
“The Australian energy sector has changed massively over the past 30 years and that’s one of many things that’s changed, especially in the last few years.
It’s just a matter of time before we see the same kind of transformation in Australia,” Hunt said.”
This is an example where the Australian government is taking this very serious approach to ensure that this green revolution does not fade away.”
Acacia’s new plant is part of a larger investment in renewable energy.
The company is building a large renewable farm near Cairnedge in Queensland’s north.
The new plant will have the capacity to produce up to 10,000 tonnes of bio-fuels a year, which will then be transported to Australia’s major ports.
The company is planning to import its feedstocks directly to the grid.
“It’s a significant commitment, it’s a big investment and we think we can deliver on that,” Acacia’s CEO, Mike Deere, said.
“We think that the energy efficiency of this facility will enable us to achieve this level of bioelectricity and our overall energy consumption.”
Deere said the facility will produce up 20% of its energy needs from wind and solar power, compared with the existing Cairne plant, which uses a mixture of solar, wind and hydro power.
“We are looking at the most sustainable energy-saving technology we can for this plant,” he said.
He said the project would also allow Acacia to provide more energy to the local community.
“In the Caunnies, our biggest contributor to energy consumption is the electricity we consume from the power grid, so we are looking to build a plant that is more environmentally-friendly, more energy efficient and also more efficient for the local communities,” Deere said.
“The fact that we have been able to reduce our electricity use by 20% will be huge for our community, and that will be the biggest contribution to the carbon footprint of the whole project.”
Deere’s company will be using biomass from its Cairndge farm, along with other biofuels, to make electricity.
The energy minister also said he was confident Australia could lead the world in bioenergy production, given its location.
“There are no other countries that are looking further away from their energy infrastructure,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“If you look at Australia, there is a lot of interest in the industry and this is something that is very exciting to me.”
He said Australia was the world’s second-largest producer of renewable energy after the United States.
“That is the reason why we are building this facility here, to ensure we can grow that market.”
Devere said the company hoped to have the first large-scale renewable power station operational by 2025.