Growers confident of plant success
TWEED cane growers are confident the Condong co-generation plant can be a long-term success despite its serious short-term problems.
The Condong and Broadwater co-generation plants, worth $220 million, could fall into receivership within a few months unless the Federal Government changes the rules to Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) trading, according to New South Wales Sugar Chief Executive Officer Chris Connors.
The price for the certificates on the Australian stock market has plummeted as the market is flooded with credits from household solar hot water systems.
Mr Connors said renewable energy, which includes co-generation plants and wind farms, had been placed at a disadvantage by solar credits.
“At the end of the day, the problem with the solar credit system the government introduced is that it has wiped out 50 per cent of the price of renewable energy certificates.”
Mr Connors said a solution to the problem was quite simple; bring some of the energy production targets forward, to bump the price back up.
“It can be fixed without doing any harm to the solar credit system, and we need to fix it up, because the co-gen, at the moment, is really floundering.”
Tweed Valley Canegrowers Association chairman Robert Quirk said “From the growers’ perspective, we have been briefed by Chris Connors, who has told us it will be tough in the short-term, but the long-term future of the project looks good.
“If they go back to a realistic value for the renewable energy certificates the project is extremely viable.”
He said the next couple of years would be tight, but things would improve.
“As growers we are confident that there is a way forward that can get us through this.”
The two co-generation plants were built as a joint venture between the NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative and the State Government-owned Delta Electricity.
Climate Change Minister Penny Wong announced last month that the Government would review the REC market.
The Federal Government provided a grant of $10 million to help make them happen.
The plants burnsugar by-products and camphor laurel chips to create electricity.