MSF Sugar’s biofuels vision could make it right to the office of the most powerful man in Australia after a successful visit by the Prime Minister’s Assistant Minister this week to the Tableland Mill.
Queensland LNP Senator James McGrath toured the mill and got a birds-eye view of MSF Sugar’s $75 million Green Energy Power Plant, currently under construction.
Senator McGrath was on the Atherton Tableland as part of a listening tour of regional Queensland.
“The green energy power plant blew me away in terms of the investment from MSF Sugar into the mill and obviously the broader district,” Senator McGrath said.
“MSF Sugar is very forward thinking and I think the owners and all the growers should be congratulated for their long term investment in the mill and the district.”
With a number of coalfired power stations tipped to close over the next decade, Senator McGrath was able to see first-hand how fibre from cane can be transformed into baseload power.
The power plant will turn a 100% sugar cane fibre product known as bagasse into electricity when it comes online mid next year, with other products like blue agave also in the mix to supplement the cane.
When asked whether agriculture could be part of the answer to Australia’s future baseload electricity source, Senator McGrath said a range of options were on the table.
“The Prime Minister has been very clear on this – we want people to have affordable and reliable electricity,” Senator McGrath said.
“Whether it comes from coal, solar, wind or burning bagasse, we want to make sure in Australia in the 21st century when you turn on your light switch, power comes through.
“It’s about having a range of energy options so people have affordable electricity. Could agriculture be an option – totally.”
MSF Sugar Tableland Mill Green Energy Power Plant Project Manager Mark Magnanini said key to the company’s plans to transform from a raw sugar company into a diversified sugarcane business with multiple bio-products, was cane supply, with water critical to enable our growers to expand cane crops in the region.
“It’s very exciting what is happening here on the Tablelands,” Senator McGrath said.
“There is a real energy here in terms of growing the area but one of the issues that is missing is water.
“The big message that has come out today is that everyone wants more water infrastructure, and we are very keen for the Nullinga Dam to be pushed along.”
MSF Sugar’s significant investment in the Far North Queensland sugar industry left a lasting impression on the Senator who vowed to brief Prime Minister on the work being done by the company.
“MSF Sugar is an example of what a company is doing in Australia in terms of investment and in terms of investing in an alternative source of electricity for a district,” Senator McGrath said.