Thursday, 26 May 2011

'Timber fire' for KI power

Adelaide Advertiser
19 May 2011, Page: 51

A biomass power plant fired from plantation timber on Kangaroo Island has been hailed as the key to maintaining the island's eco tourism status and restarting the timber mill, with more than 30 jobs created. The plan is the brainchild of RuralAus Investments, the owner of the timber mill and 2100ha of pine plantations on the island. RuralAus Investments chief executive John Ipsen yesterday announced the company would spend $374,000 on a full feasibility study into a 10 MW renewable biomass power plant on Kangaroo Island.

Mr Ipsen said it would potentially provide a "clean green" energy solution for one of the world's great eco tourism destinations. The company is also planning to restart the Kangaroo Island timber mill within five months and becoming the largest employer on the island when it is fully commissioned within a few years. "It will cost $250,000 to restart the mill and our aim is to produce high value lumber for the SA market", Mr Ipsen said. "We plan to start in the third quarter and employ probably 12 people initially for the green section of the million".

The move follows RuralAus Investments's purchase of 3500ha of land with 2100ha of pine trees on the island and the timber mill for $2.35 million in July 2010. The property was bought from Sustainable Forestry Management Australia when it went into receivership. Mr Ipsen said SA Government agencies fully supported the study because the reliability and performance of the Kangaroo Island energy network was plagued by high costs and supply limitations. "We have an opportunity to make a real impact on Kangaroo Island with ready access to an excellent source of renewable energy, which can provide a clean and relatively low cost power solution ", Mr Ipsen said.

He said RuralAus Investments needed 3 MW of power to run the timber mill and its pre feasibility study showed that a 10 MW power plant, to provide enough energy for its own use and the community, would work. "I've met with a number of local, state and federal government agencies and ministers and they are fully supportive of what we are trying to achieve", Mr Ipsen said. He said it would take about 18 months and $30 million to plan and build a 10 MW renewable energy power plant.