22 December, 2011

Mill energy plan a step closer

The Islander, 22 Dec, 2011

WA-Based timber company RuralAus has cleared the first major hurdle in its bid to build a biomass energy plant at its timber mill operations near Parndana.

The company has completed a feasibility study into the project, which aims to generate five to 10 megawatts of power from mill waste, using 2MW for its own operations and making the rest available to other island users.

RuralAus chief executive officer John Ipsen said the feasibility study, completed with a State Government grant, had shown the project should proceed to the next stage and “what we shouldn’t be doing, what technology we shouldn’t use”.

RuralAus will now employ a project manager to get a “bankable project” by the end of this financial year, with completion of the plant in mid to late-2013. It has been encouraged to seek further government grants to support the project to its next level.

“I’m confident the project will happen. There are too many relevant milestones achieved already. We have our own resources, the mill, the government is aware of the island’s energy situation and we have the support of governments,” Mr Ipsen said.

“We just need to get in there and tick all the boxes.”

He said RuralAus was ready to work on the cable and infrastructure issues with stakeholders.

“We see this project as complementing other initiatives, such as Island Energy. We are keen to work with other government and community groups in a whole-of-island approach.”

Meanwhile, RuralAus has interim planning approval to operate the mill at Parndana on a trial basis one day a week.

“We’ve already employed 8 people and we hope to increase that to 30,” Mr Ipsen said.

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