A feasibility study conducted by BBI Australia Limited indicated that there is ample sugar cane grown in the Herbert River District to provide feed stock to the factory.
NQBE has gained access to cane production area in the district which will provide the required minimum amount of feed stock (2.5 to 3 million tonnes of cane per season) with growers having signed binding contractual cane supply agreements.
Feedstock outside the sugar cane harvesting season will be drawn from fallow crops such as sweet sorghum, timber off-cuts, and council green waste. Additional feed stocks: The introduction of the timber industry to the Herbert River District provides the opportunity to be able to extend the operational hours of the factory. Best practice and effective use of capital is to operate 24 hours a day, seven days per week and 52 weeks a year. The wet season in North Queensland presents some difficulties in achieving this particularly because of the traditional heavy monsoonal rain which can occur in the months of February and March each year. The construction of large storage sheds to house the feedstock during these heavy rainy periods will allow for the storage of woodchip and other feed stocks which can be used for cogeneration or the cellulosic ethanol production process.
By calculating the total calorific values for the fuels available (bagasse and woodchip) and scaling cogeneration information from data sheets provided by KBK engineering, a conservative estimate of turbine size for a factory processing 2.5 to 3 million tonnes of cane is in the vicinity 110 to 115MW (megawatts).
North Queensland suffers from an acute shortage of locally produced electricity and there are a significant number of mining projects currently on hold because of the lack of available electricity. A number of electricity companies have indicated that they will purchase all of the electricity that NQBE can generate.