Seed capital for energy project

Kate PollardCountryman
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Wagin's $7.2 million food and fibre processing hub is a step closer to becoming operational after a $1 million grant from the State Government to invest in low-emission technology.

The grant will be used by Morton's Seed and Grain Merchants which want to use oat husks as fuel to generate electricity and heat.

Along with a consortium of partners they want to use the power to desalinate the town's high water table, which is causing structural damage to buildings, and use the water at an inland barramundi farm.

Morton's Seed and Grain Merchants owner Johnnie Morton said the funding is the first for the project and will go towards purchasing a biomass boiler and gas plant.

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To generate 2.1 mega watts of electricity, they will need 5000 to 10,000 tonnes of oat husks.

The group, which includes the Shire, Wagin Woodanilling Landcare, Murdoch University and McRobert Contracting Services is waiting to hear if they are successful in the Federal Government's Regional Development Australia Fund.

Four other companies also received funding from the low emission energy projects funding including the Low Emissions Energy Development (LEED) Fund for Curtin University; Biogass Renewables; Green Rock Energy Ltd; Solastor, in consortium with Carbon Reduction Ventures; and The University of Western Australia (UWA).

Curtin University's LEED project aims to develop technology to char and grind biomass so it can be burned with coal in existing coal generation infrastructure.

A commercial-scale anaerobic digester converting solid waste to biogas for electricity generation is being developed by Biogass Renewables and Green Rock Energy is developing a geothermal electricity generation plant near Dongara.

A thermal power station incorporating heat storage technology, Solastor also received funding along with UWA for research to recapture methane from liquefied natural gas vents.

Environment Minister Bill Marmion and Energy Minister Peter Collier said $12.7 million of funds were subject to the companies matching every dollar of Government funds with at least $3 from elsewhere.

Mr Marmion said it would lead to a direct investment of more than $50 million in low emissions technology.

"If these projects lead to commercial-scale developments in the future, they have the potential to save millions of tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions a year," Mr Collier said.

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