North Queensland Bio-Energy Corporation Limited (NQBE) Chairman, Robert Carey, has described a $1.17 million funding from the Queensland Government’s Bio-futures Industry Development Fund (BIDF) as “a breakthrough” for the $640 million sugar-based renewable energy Project at Ingham.

“It is the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle for the project in that it will allow for the completion of Due Diligence, which will enable the Project to move to financial closure,” Mr Carey said.

“Completion of the Due Diligence will enable construction to start early next year, immediately after the 2018 wet season.”

The NQBE project will use waste from sugar production (bagasse), to generate enough electricity to power approximately 28,000 homes, in addition to producing 430,000 tonnes of raw sugar and up to 60 million litres of fuel grade ethanol per annum.

To be built on 80ha about 4km south of Ingham, the Project will create 450 jobs during construction and more than 250 new permanent positions when fully operational.

“I congratulate Premier Palaszuk and her government for the vision shown in setting up a Biofuels Industry Development Fund (BIDF) in Queensland, and providing the necessary incentives to ensure renewable energy projects become a reality,” Mr Carey said.

“This funding will not only enable NQBE to achieve financial closure, but also sends a powerful message that the State Government is serious about establishing a bio-fuels industry in Queensland and that NQBE is happy to play a part in its establishment.”

State Development Minister, Dr Anthony Lynham, said the facility was another clean, green energy generator for North Queensland.

“This funding through our BIDF will help bridge the last gap in the funding and investment for this project,” he said.

Mr Carey said NQBE shareholders, all of whom are Herbert River district cane farmers, had contributed more than $11 million to get the project to the shovel-ready stage and this show of State Government support would be well received.”

Mr Carey said the NQBE project had received full development approval as a Significant Project in 2013 under the State Government’s call-in powers.

“This funding announcement will send a clear and positive message to Ingham cane farmers that government is serious about supporting renewable energy projects in the State.

“NQBE has 235 farmers committed to the project and, given the recent treatment by Wilmar in the Cane Supply Agreement negotiations, we expect more will want to join.

“I know some local farmers have been sitting on the fence, waiting for some certainty before coming on board, so this fantastic show of support from the State Government should remove thoose doubts about the future of the project.

“Farmers who want further information on the substantial benefits the project will deliver to their business and the local community should contact the NQBE office in Lannercost Street.”