Sugarcane is the industry of the moment, with a drive to attract biorefinery investors to Queensland paying off.
The Queensland government has announced plans for a biorefinery by US Biotechnology company, Amyris.
In San Diego for the BIO2017 international convention, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the planned biorefinery could create upwards of 70 jobs and further boost Queensland’s reputation globally as a leading biofutures location.
“Amyris is seeking to replicate its successful biorefinery in Brazil and sees Queensland as an ideal location due to the abundance of sugarcane and close proximity to Asia,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“The company’s proposed biorefinery would aim to produce 23,000 tonnes a year of a sugar cane-based ingredient called farnesene, which is used in a range of products including cosmetics, fragrances, nutraceuticals, polymers, and lubricants.”
Amyris president and CEO John Melo said he was very pleased with the commitment of the Queensland government to be “leaders of the bioeconomy”.
“Our growing demand in China for vitamins and the Asian demand for cosmetics and fragrances supports a new specialty farnesene fermentation factory in Queensland,” Mr Melo said.
“The funding from the Queensland government, along with the operating expertise and sugar cane base of our local partner, makes this factory possible and enables savings from our current production in Brazil and the associated shipping costs.
“Like all our new projects, this factory is expected to be sold out when it starts operating with agreements to supply our current partners in China and other Asian markets.
“Queensland offers an excellent location option for Amyris with its favorable business climate, extensive sugar industry and geographic proximity to these markets.”
Ms Palaszczuk said the proposed Amyris biorefinery was another step towards achieving Queensland’s vision for a $1 billion sustainable, export-oriented biotechnology and bioproducts sector.
“Acceleration of the Amyris project came out of the Queensland government’s Biofutures Acceleration Program that offers support to companies to build commercial-scale biorefineries in regional Queensland to process materials such as agricultural and industrial waste,” she said.
“A total of 120 parties recently indicated interest in biorefining in Queensland through the program and 26 submitted detailed expressions of interest.
“The Queensland government’s funding and support for biorefinery projects will create high-value jobs and investment in regional Queensland by using renewable feedstocks to create biofuel and other bioproducts.
“The Queensland government is leading Australia’s bio-economic revolution through the Advance Queensland Biofutures 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan.”
The Premier, along with the Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy, Leeanne Enoch, met with key industry and research leaders, including US biotech company Amyris, Johnson & Johnson Innovation and the United States Navy, firming existing ties and looking at how further opportunities for Queensland can be explored.
A big focus of this year’s BIO mission was supporting the state’s burgeoning biofutures sector, with the aim of providing new opportunities for the state’s agricultural producers and the possibility of brand new industries in regional and rural Queensland.
At BIO, the Premier announced the recipients of the $5 million Advance Queensland Biofutures Commercialisation Program.
The projects included turning millions of tonnes of sugar waste that’s normally burnt into a feedstock for biorefineries.
The Queensland Renewable Fuels Association is celebrating the Queensland government’s announcement that United States-based company Amyris has plans for a biorefinery in Queensland.
QRFA managing director Larissa Rose said it was great news for the renewables industry.
“The momentum is building for our industry and the news these last two weeks with major project investments into biofuels, advanced renewable fuels and bioproducts for the state just highlights the expansive potentiality Queensland has for being leading producers and exporters in this industry,” Ms Rose said.
“The Queensland government has played a pivotal role in working hard to ensure we build a robust biofuture industry.”
Ms Rose has been travelling extensively in California to better understand California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, its legislative drivers, and key initiatives and mechanisms that could be applied to Queensland and Australia.