Australia’s first straw-fuelled power plant proposed

A power plant fuelled by straw has been proposed for South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.

The Yorke Biomass Energy plant is the latest project to receive funding from the South Australian Government’s Renewable Technology Fund.

The company behind the project, Yorke Biomass Energy, has received a $476,000 grant towards a feasibility study to be carried out before the company makes a final decision on investment.

The straw-fuelled biomass generator will produce 15MW of power, as well as a new income stream for farmers and additional competition for the grid, which puts downward pressure on power prices.

“This funding grant will enable us to take some big steps forward with our demonstration project and proceed through to commercial close during the second half of 2018,” Yorke Biomass Energy chairman Terry Kallis said.

“It’s also a fantastic vote of confidence in the project by the South Australian Government, which continues to look at innovative new ways to provide cheaper, greener and more reliable energy in South Australia.

“We believe straw-fuelled power generation can play an important role in Australia’s energy mix.

“It can help reduce the cost of electricity and create new economic benefits to local rural communities, as well as helping resolve issues between mining and agricultural pursuits in a win-win manner.”

The demonstration project will be located near the Ardrossan West substation and will create about 40 ongoing jobs if progressed.

Once the Ardrossan demonstration project is complete, Yorke Biomass Energy plans to replicate the project across South Australia in remote and off-grid locations, particularly where crop farming and mining projects are located.

The company has identified 10 potential locations to produce up to 150MW of additional generation capacity in South Australia.

SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the state government is supporting the development of a diverse range of new renewables projects to add competition to the grid.

“This is new technology that would not only be an Australian first but could create hundreds of new jobs in regional South Australia as Yorke Biomass Energy seek to roll out as many as 10 straw-fuelled power stations across the state,” he said.

“This project would also create new income streams for local farmers seeking to supply straw to the plant, helping sustain and build regional communities on Yorke Peninsula.”