New $11m biomass plant ‘environmentally friendly’: Carbon cut

EIGHT months ago, Colignan company Australian Tartaric Products flipped a switch and cut its carbon emissions by nearly 80 per cent by turning purple waste into green energy.­

Boost: Peter Crisp and Ben Mansfield at the new plant yesterday.

Boost: Peter Crisp and Ben Mansfield at the new plant yesterday.

The company’s new $11 million biomass-fuelled boiler and power-generation system burns grape marc, 90,000 soggy tonnes of grape stems, skins and lees left over after wineries in the NSW Riverina, Swan Hill to Sunraysia wine-making regions, have completed­ their annual vintage.

The new plant, opened yesterday by the State Member for Mildura Peter Crisp will keep 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere every year. 

“Nobody else in the region even goes close,” ATP general manager Ben Manfield proudly told guests at yesterday’s opening ceremony.

By producing most of its own energy from the new plant, ATP expects to save $1.5 million a year on the cost of bottled gas it previously used to run its boilers, and another $1.5 million on oil and electricity bills.

ATP’s business forms a closed loop: it turns winery wastes into products for wine-making, selling them to the wineries that generated the wastes – tartaric acid for acidifying wines, and ethanol, for fortifying wines like brandy and port. 

Mr Crisp said the Victorian Government’s Regional Growth Fund provided a $1.8 million grant for the project, the Federal Government kicked in with a $1.7 million renewable-energy grant. ATP and the National Australia Bank funded the rest. 

Echoing the company’s business model, its new renewable-energy plant constitutes a closed loop within another closed loop.

For more of this story, purchase your copy of Friday's Sunraysia Daily 06/06/2014.