Moves are underway to turn a major Limestone Coast food manufacturer into a bioenergy hotspot. Blue Lake Milling has developed a plan to convert cereal husks into power as part of an ambitious project designed to reduce energy costs and provide a positive impact on the energy market in South Australia.
The Tatiara company is one of the first in South Australia to take advantage of the State Government’s Bioenergy Roadmap Program designed to unlock potential biofuel resources and stimulate investment in innovative power-generating technology. The program, which is being administered statewide by Regional Development Australia – Limestone Coast (RDALC), lays the groundwork for new projects by providing mentorship and feasibility funding for applicants.
“There is real scope for utilising a waste or residual resource to provide energy solutions for South Australia, and the search is underway for new feedstocks for bioenergy production,” explains RDALC senior project officer Roger Babolka. “Funding is available to help guide applicants through the conceptual stages to try to get these projects off the ground.”
Blue Lake Milling’s proposal has now progressed to a full feasibility study in recognition of the anticipated environmental and economic benefits. Each year, the company’s Bordertown plant processes approximately 24,000 tonnes of husk as a by-product of its cereal oat production. The husk is sold to stock feeders to be used as a bulk filler in feed pellets, but BLM chief executive officer, Ben Abbot, says it would be more valuable as a fuel source.
“We are a 24-hour 5-day-a-week operation, and while this time last year our monthly power bill was $50,000, it has since jumped to $80,000 per month,” he says. “With the system that we are looking at, we would generate more than enough power ourselves; two thirds of it would go to the mill, and the remaining third could be put back into the grid, which is an added bonus.”
Through a process of anaerobic digestion, the discarded oat husks would be placed in a tank of water with bacteria added. The methane gas subsequently produced by the organic breakdown process would be channelled to an engine to generate power, using technology that is already in widespread use across Europe.
“It’s proven technology, and a West Australian company has also successfully adopted a similar system to process food waste,” Mr Abbot explains. “We already have the fuel and the site, with the equipment expected to cover a 40 x 40-metre area.”
Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said, “The opportunities that exist in the renewable energy and storage sector are incredibly diverse. The State Government recently announced the support of four projects through the Renewable Technology Fund that includes battery storage, hydrogen fuel cells and thermal storage using biogas from sewage.
“We are also pleased to fund this feasibility study in bioenergy generated from oat husks at iconic South Australian company Blue Lake Milling. By harnessing industrial by products such as these, we can lower power prices for businesses and also reduce the overall demand on the electricity grid” says Minister Koutsantonis.
The Bioenergy Roadmap Program will remain open for applications through to 30th June 2018, or until the funds are expended, with applications assessed as they are received. Applications are available at: www.rdalimestonecoast.org.au
For further information contact:
Senior Project Officer, Roger Babolka,
P: (08) 87231057