Waste wood chips from regional forests will replace LPG gas to provide steam for MSM Milling’s Manildra canola processing plant in a $5.38 million green project.
Work will start soon with commissioning expected from mid-late October.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced on Tuesday it would provide $2 million toward the project.
A 4.88 megawatt biomass-fired boiler will be installed at Manildra in one of the first projects of its type by a large food company in Australia.
Wood chips, including forestry thinnings, offcuts and sawmill by-products will be trucked to the plant to fire the plant’s boilers and generate steam for the processing operation.
MSM Milling Director Bob Mac Smith said at full production they would need three tonnes of the wood every hour.
He said there was plenty of stock available near Manildra.
“In a radius of 120 kilometres to 150 kilometres of Manildra there is a variety of sources,” he said.
“There is certainly more than enough material there to do what we do.
“MSM Milling has spent a number of years researching to identify the optimal thermal energy solution for the plan to further secure our future.
“The project will significantly reduce greenhouse emissions, fossil fuel energy use and depletion, while increasing renewable energy generation in NSW.”
Mr Mac Smith said the use of gas for firing the boiler was “ferociously expensive.”
He said the harvesting of the waste timber would also create jobs for contractors and provide income for the forestry industry.
And he said it would help secure the jobs of 70 workers at MSM.
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the biomass industry was underdeveloped in Australia.
“Bioenergy currently makes up only around 0.9 per cent of Australia’s energy mix, however the use of wood chips is becoming attractive as consumers are increasingly demanding better environmental performance across product supply chains,” he said.
“We hope MSM Milling’s innovation will lead to more industries turning to biomass in a move which could increase renewable energy generation in NSW and Australia and create alternative value streams for wood materials currently considered as waste.”