Thursday 30 June 2011

Queensland has US Navy in its sights

  • Biofuels may power US Navy Fleet
  • Sugar producers to play a part
  • State commited to bio-based industry

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, who is in Washington attending BIO 2011, has revealed that Queensland researchers are preparing to make a bid to provide the US Navy with biofuels for ships and planes by 2020.

Ms Bligh said Queensland has an opportunity to capture the interest of the US Navy with its biofuels technology development.

"Queensland is a big sugar producer and the state is well placed with a number of research institutions working in the biofuels area.

"There is an opportunity for Queensland to lead the way working with the US Navy in the development of next stage (demonstration-scale) commercial production of biofuels".

"The US Navy is trialling biofuels in its aircraft and ships. By 2020 the US Navy wants half its fuel needs met from alternative sources."

President Obama has directed the Navy and Department of Energy to work with the private sector to create advanced biofuels that can power jet fighters and landing craft, but also trucks and commercial airliners.

Tenders for the projects have yet to open.

"The US Navy will use its purchasing power and expertise to stimulate the private sector to produce suitable grade biofuels in larger and larger quantities," Ms Bligh said.

Ms Bligh said The University of Queensland, along with other research institutions, see the approach by the US Navy as an opportunity to attract significant investment into their existing strategic biofuels research relationships with leading multi-national companies in particular Amyris and Solazyme.

"Boeing and leading US renewable products company Amyris Biotechnologies have provided significant financial support towards the project. Strategic partnerships such as these will be a focus of our economic strategy for this industry."

Ms Bligh also revealed that Queensland had furthered its commitment to developing a new highly innovative industrial sector around bio-based products, following the release of a bio-based industrials development policy statement.

"This policy will help to position Queensland to capitalise on this worldwide trend," she said.

"In simple terms, resources ranging from specialty crops, grasses, trees and marine algae, to household, industrial and agricultural waste, have the potential to be converted into products such as fuels, plastics, paper and chemicals.

"These advanced processing technologies have the potential to revolutionise how we fuel our transport, produce energy, and manufacture products.