Co-generation helps clear up the camphors

A TRIAL to harvest and chip 500 tonnes of the notorious weed camphor laurel for use as fuel at Condong and Broadwater (south of Ballina) sugar mill co-generation electricity plants has been a success.

NSW Sugar CEO Greg Messiter praised the experiment for the renewable energy (electricity) it produces, while helping rid the area of the weed at the same time.

"Camphor laurel is all over the Tweed valley, we can use it as a fuel because it has been accredited by the Australian Greenhouse Office as a renewable fuel," Mr Messiter said.

The NSW North Coast has been described as having the largest and worst invasion of camphor laurel in Australia.

"The results were very pleasing because of the speed and ease in the way the material was chipped," Mr Messiter said.

The chipped material has been stored adjacent the Condong mill at a fuel stockpile on the western side of Tweed Valley Way at Condong.

More than 80 landholders and 20 contractors have expressed interest in providing camphor laurel to the Condong plant, which will generate 30 %megawatts of renewable energy.

A demand for 30,000 to 40,000 tonnes of camphor laurel has been identified to supplement fuel from sugarcane fibre, a sugar-production by-product, during the first year of operation at the co-generation plant.

State Forests estimates that within 50 kilometres of both the Condong and Broadwater mills, there is several million tonnes of camphor laurel.

"We probably won't be able to use it all up, it's spreading too rapidly, but it's a way of cleaning it up a bit and getting renewable energy at the same time," Mr Messiter said.

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