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Bundaberg bioHub nears completion

Bundaberg bioHub
Mark O’Shannessy overlooks the Bundaberg bioHub site which will be producing biogas in 2021.

The Bundaberg bioHub is nearing completion and will be producing biogas in 2021, converting waste to energy on the site of a former wastewater treatment plant.

The green project will not only repurpose existing infrastructure no longer used, it will create renewable, low-cost and sustainable energy for local industry, all while utilising products that would otherwise be considered waste.

Utilitas general manager Mark O’Shannessy said the first stage of demolition had recently been completed to make way for new bioHub related tenancies with more demolition scheduled for November.

“In keeping with our intentions to repurpose as much of the old site as possible, it should be noted that most of the demolished materials such as concrete, aggregate and soil will be reused on-site during site development next year,” Mr O’Shannessy said.

“Only the reinforcing steel has been removed for recycling elsewhere.

“The site will come online in stages and we intend that most of these will be in 2021, especially the production of biogas.”

From there Utilitas intends to establish a tenancy for advanced anaerobic digestion (AD) bioCNG to provide commercial demonstration of the alternative clean vehicle fuel that is competitive with diesel and natural gas.

Bundaberg Regional Council’s water services laboratory and a Utilitas biorefining laboratory are already tenants at the site.

Mr O’Shannessy said he had received interest for some of the remaining tenancies.

“We are currently receiving expressions of interest from several bio-energy industry participants,” he said.

“We will assess these in the latter part of the year and award tenancies on the basis of bioHub alignment and value for money.”

The Bundaberg bioHub has been flagged as the first of 100 which Utilitas plans to build in regional Australia and CEO Fiona Waterhouse said it was little wonder why, describing the region as a “bioeconomy powerhouse”.

Bundaberg bioHub
Feedstock such as organic waste will be converted into energy at a proposed Bundaberg bioHub operated by Utilitas Group.

“Together with Bundaberg Regional Council and team and local stakeholders we have worked for seven years to create the Bundaberg bioHub as a demonstration site for the bioeconomy,” Ms Waterhouse said.

“Your horticulture, food and beverage sectors, for example, are world class and growing.

“Bundaberg has also been growing the next generation of biotech and agtech businesses including our bioHub where we have had pilot scale facilities in place for several years prior to taking ownership of the whole site this year.”

Coupled with a proactive community, extensive talent pool and “world class logistics and supply chains” make Bundaberg the logical choice for Utilitas’ first biohub according to Ms Waterhouse.

She said when fully operational the bioHub would provide 15 full-time equivalent jobs but the real benefit lay in its ability to support more traditional industries in the area.

“Our estimates for jobs and economic activity for construction phase for the program involves a capital expenditure component of approximately $19.2 million over five years.

“The great thing about our bioHubs is that they protect and grow traditional jobs – cropping, waste hauling, fertiliser distribution, etc while also providing new jobs in energy and resource recovery and biomanufacturing.”

Ms Waterhouse is one of several high-profile speakers programmed for Bundaberg Regional Council’s Bioeconomy Conference 2020 which will also feature a site visit to the bioHub.

“This annual event provides a platform for promoting Bundaberg as a globally significant bioeconomy powerhouse allowing locals and people around Queensland, Australia and the world who are interested in investing, developing projects, becoming tenants, becoming customers and supplying equipment to have a focus for a time and a place to engage,” she said.

Register for the conference or a Bundaberg bioHub site tour here https://bit.ly/3gPcZQI by Friday, 25 September.

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