Ethanol industry becomes big business


Aust Biofuels plans advanced: As well, Australian Biofuels Ltd,
a subsidiary of Perth’s Australian Ethanol Ltd has finished a
feasibility study for a grain-to-ethanol plant at Swan Hill, Victoria,
and has an option to buy land for another at Coleambally. It has plans
for ethanol plants at Forties, in the Central West, and Lake Grace in
WA and will also look at other sites in eastern Australia.

Other players active: Other groups propose ethanol plants at
Quirindi and Gunnedah in NSW and Milmerran in Queensland and the
Australian Biodiesel Group has a 40 million litres-a-year biodiesel
plant at Berkeley Vale on the Central Coast.

60c/litre forecast: Recent estimates suggest Australia can
produce ethanol at about 60 cents per litre based on a grain price of
$250 a tonne. Sorghum is the most efficient producer of ethanol (at
about 400l/t) followed by corn and wheat. Distillers grain, a
protein-rich by-product of ethanol production, is also sought by
livestock feeders.

Canberra will provide kickstart only: The Federal Government has
set a production target of 350 million litres of biofuels by 2010 but
its own measures to foster local production will start to sunset from
July 1, 2011, when import protection for ethanol will end, exposing the
industry to world parity pricing, especially from Brazil. At the same
time ethanol will start attracting an excise which will rise in equal
annual instalments to a maximum 12.5 cents per litre by mid-2016
(compared with the present 38 cents per litre tax on unleaded petrol).

The Land, 5/1/2006, p. 17


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