THE untapped potential of Queensland’s biofuels and bio-manufacturing industries are being explored in a discussion paper set to be released in late May.
Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey said state cabinet had given the green light for government to explore ways to expand Queensland’s biofuels.
“The economic and environmental benefits of ethanol is recognised around the world and we want Queensland to be part of this sustainable energy solution,” Mr Bailey said.
“That’s why we plan to release a discussion paper on biofuels and bio-manufacturing and will be consulting widely on ways to extract the best out of the industry."
According to a joint Deloitte Access Economics/Queensland University of Technology study, bio-refining in Queensland could create up to 6640 full-time jobs and contribute more than $1.8 billion in gross state product over the next 20 years.
Mr Bailey said one of their plans was to make it a requirement for large oil companies to make available an ethanol blend in their fuel.
“The use of an ethanol blend will need to be rolled out, over time, in line with production capacity. That way, we are best-placed to ensure that any ethanol used and sold in Queensland comes from Queensland."
Forums will be held across Queensland in key locations to coincide with the release of the paper and a bill will also be introduced into state parliament.
Changes hindering the growth of the biofuel industry include the federal government's Ethanol Production Grains Program is set to end on June 30, while the fuel excise on domestically produced ethanol will be reduced to zero from July 1. In the following year it will rise to 2.5 cents per litre and continue to do so for five years until it reaches 12.5 cents per litre.
AgForce, who have been lobbying for the development of a domestic biofuels industry for a number of years, applauded the announcement.
In order for the industry to thrive, AgForce believes the state government must introduce a biofuels mandate, invest $100 million in appropriate research and development and set a minimum target of five per cent biofuel use as soon as possible.
AgForce grains president Wayne Newton said the organisation had long held the view a domestic renewable biofuel industry would add diversity and security to the supply of fuel in addition to providing a reliable alternate market for grain grown by Queensland producers.
"There is significant potential for biofuel production including biodiesel from Queensland oilseed crops to meet demand from the agriculture and resources sectors and today's announcement is an excellent step towards realising this potential," he said.