Behind the scenes knowledge boosts unique renewable project

Local knowledge, expertise and contacts are key to the feasibility of a unique renewable energy project in Coleambally, NSW.

ICN consultant, Klaus Baumgartel, is drawing on his experience to help REEF Renewable Energy and the Coleambally Ethanol plant source opportunities to add value to the product of the small plant. 

Ethanol and bio-fuel production is waste neutral in that all by-products can be used, sold, recycled or even eaten.

“‘We are looking at two possible directions,” Klaus said. “The first is using ethanol in a gas turbine to provide appropriate amounts of power and heat that may be used for drying things such as nuts, fruit, cotton and so on.”

The longer-term plan is to power a cotton gin being built across the road from the ethanol plant and owned by the same people.

For five months each year the generated power will provide behind-the-metre supply to the gin.

“What they want to do for the other seven months is to provide power into the grid, when the value is high, and they can maximise their dollars,” said Klaus.

And, to complete the circular economy, the cotton gin will provide waste products for the ethanol production.

REEF Renewable Energy was established purely to explore renewably energy opportunities for the Coleambally plant. Its four directors include Standard Ethanol owners, Scott Hogan and Larry Walsh, along with design engineer Bill Horton and chartered accountant Rob Jones.

Built around Standard Ethanol's newly commissioned plant, the REEF project will generate power from renewable biofuels in a commercially sustainable business application. The hybrid power and biofuels project will combine jet engines powered by blended ethanol to provide the base power of 35,000 MWH, with a 5 MW solar farm providing an extra 800o MWH.

It was during an open day in November 2018, REEF became aware of ICN NSW and the services they provided.

“Klaus came to visit us at the plant and once he saw inside the plant, he realised the value and that the project was worth promoting.

“He has been our strongest advocate and has done so many things for us.”

ICN has introduced REEF to suppliers of raw material into the plant, and well as sourcing users of the generated power.

“Klaus has also put us in touch with his engineering and technical connections. It is always a very relevant experience - he is able to connect those who need to talk.”

“His years of experience and an understanding of this project means he can join the dots.”

According to Bill, the cotton gin will bring $600 million of farm-gate income into the region, stimulating local employment.

“While reusing waste may have been the initial reason for this project, the spinoff benefits extend well beyond that” he added.

Another option that the plant is looking into for value adding is using the brewers’ grain waste to generated high-protein products using yeast, either for human consumption or for stock feed.

“It’s a very multi-angled project and I have been helping by providing information on possible applications, given them names of companies that may use these kinds of products and also sourcing raw material, technology and a whole range of things,” Klaus said.

“What ICN provided is quite unique in that we have regional knowledge to give them end-to-end services.”

Suppliers interested in learning more about the value adding opportunities at the Coleambally Ethanol Plant should ensure their ICN Gateway profile is up to date.