Delta Electricity has taken a significant step towards developing its portfolio of low-emission electricity with the opening of the Condong and Broadwater renewable energy plants this week.

Both the Condong plant, on the Tweed River just north of Murwillumbah, and Broadwater (pictured) on the Richmond River near Ballina, will be powered by the waste material from milling sugar cane – bagasse – and has seen the gradual phasing out of pre-harvest burning of green cane in the field.

The renewable energy plants, jointly developed by Delta Electricity and the NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative, will power the two sugar mills and provide base-load power to 60,000 homes in the Northern Rivers region.

The Chief Executive of Delta Electricity, Jim Henness, said the opening of Condong and Broadwater demonstrates that Delta Electricity is a first mover in the development and adoption of new technologies for base-load renewable power in the electricity generation industry.

“While coal still provides reliable base-load power output, we recognise that diversifying the fuel sources for electricity generation is a positive response to the issues of climate change which are becoming more relevant to the community,” he said.

“The Condong and Broadwater plants are the first of Delta’s new alternative power generation technologies.

“They will make a significant contribution to Australia’s greenhouse reduction targets.”

NSW Sugar CEO Chris Connors said the day was a watershed for the co-operative and its 600 members.

“Our growers have faced the twin challenges of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting their future with this project by using trash to create another income stream,” he said.

“They identified an opportunity that has benefits for them and their communities beyond their lifetimes and responded. That’s quite significant.”

Delta says the two plants will save around 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year.

Mr Henness said Delta has been preparing for the new emissions trading system environment for some time.

Delta has invested in micro-hydro generation, in developing facilities using sugar cane as fuel, as well as new technologies such as the pilot plant built with CSIRO which is trialling the capture of CO2 emissions at the coal-fired Munmorah power station.

Delta is also constructing low-emission gas turbine plant at Colongra on the NSW Central Coast and has development approval for another gas turbine facility at Bamarang near Nowra.

Delta has also completed environmental assessments and is seeking approval to build a third gas turbine plant at Marulan, near Goulburn.

“We believe that the electricity generating industry should be the first to embrace the need for change in this area and to look for alternative ways to generate lower carbon emission base-load power,” Mr Henness said.

“That means being more creative and innovative in the way we meet the community’s demand for a reliable supply of electricity.”

While Delta’s principal fuel source is coal at the moment, its intention is to be a major baseload supplier of lower carbon emission and renewable electricity.

“Of course, this is a challenge for us, but one that we are embracing. Our long-term business success is dependent on our ability to adapt and develop more sustainable strategies,” Mr Henness said.
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