About the Project
Grampians Gas is a transformational bioenergy and Circular Economy project, to be developed and centred around Ararat, in western Victoria. In a region known all over the world for its cereal cropping, this project is designed to maximise the effective use of low-grade or excess straw and stubble, and potentially other organic waste streams, transforming them into renewable gas, electricity, heat and other valuable co-products.
There are many potential benefits associated with this project concept, including:
potential to achieve long term, meaningful carbon drawdown, by sequestering and stabilising it in soil, while improving the quality and productivity of local farmland
creating permanent jobs for the community during construction, but also across the straw supply chain in baling and haulage, and in the operation of the plant itself, for the life of the asset - this has a multiplying effect on regional GDP and builds wealth in the region
supporting stable, 'baseload' quality electricity supply to complement asynchronous wind and solar PV generation in the grid, and/or can help to decarbonise the mains gas supply
aligning to political directives and community expectations around the 'Circular Economy'
the primary energy asset forming the centrepiece of a new 'industrial ecology' subdivision, designed to attract new investment and industry that can benefit from direct access to low carbon, "behind the meter" energy, as well as other products and services, creating yet more jobs
a key objective of creating a 'Discretionary Trust' structure to provide a pool of funds that will support ongoing investment into the Grampians region, as a way of 'giving back' to the local community and spreading these benefits
removes the variability of market demand, price volatility and the annual management headache associated with excess straw and stubble by providing a stable offtake
avoids both the cost and risk of annual stubble burn-off, a practice that may well soon be phased out through regulation, turning this liability into a steady stream of revenue
provides payment to farmers that supports regional economic growth and community development
presents a platform for improved carbon and nutrient management on farm, potentially also reducing opex and improving crop productivity
there will be an 'opt in' prospect for investment in the project itself for registered suppliers
A high level summary of the project concept is available here (.pdf).
Dr John Hewson
The Grampians Gas project is a highly replicable and exciting opportunity for both the energy and agricultural sectors. For the first time, we will see a 'best in class' cereal straw energy conversion plant delivered at scale in rural Australia using proven technology, with the potential to deliver deep decarbonisation while providing stable, cost-competitive renewable energy supply, and doing so in a way that supports local jobs and builds the regional economy.
David Jochinke, Vice-President
(National Farmers Federation)
Utilising cereal straw for energy aligns strongly with increasing importance of utilising local renewable resources to drive a circular economy while encouraging a platform which showcases a leading global example of agricultural innovation in action. Given the scale of cereal straw production in Australia, this has real potential to provide an important benchmark and 'alternative use' case for agricultural residues that benefits farmers and the wider community.
Dr Tim Harrison, CEO
(Ararat Rural City)
This is a transformational and groundbreaking clean energy project, designed to create local jobs, attract new investment and industries to Ararat and deliver some serious innovation for our agricultural sector. I especially like the focus on community outcomes and am delighted to be working with Pacific Heat and Power in bringing the Grampians Gas project to life.
Now seeking "Expressions of Interest" for straw supply
There is much to done to make this project a reality but in order to progress this opportunity for all stakeholders, there is a need to first assess the long term, sustainable supply of cereal straw volume (wheat or barley) that is likely to be available on an annual basis, and to engage with local graziers to recruit their participation in this effort. This is important to ensure that we size the plant correctly, and have sufficient fuel available on a long term basis to keep the plant running. Unfortunately, without these early commitments a project such as this can't get out of the starting blocks - if you build it, they will not necessarily come (and investors won't buy it)!
Accordingly, we are seeking "Expressions of Interest" from would-be suppliers of cereal straw feedstock in the region (within a maximum ~100km radius of Ararat) to help to ascertain the viability and scale of potential feedstock supply. This is with a view towards execution of a series of Options Agreements (a working draft is provided here that will be the basis of a conversation with stakeholders, prior to being finalised) that will in effect "buy us the time" required to do all of the work necessary to 'prove up' the project. Our ability to proceed with the project depends on the knowledge that we have contractable access to the available feedstock volume required to run the plant, at a given design scale, and to engage with potential buyers of the energy and other products on the back end.
Should 'bankable feasibility' status be achieved in due course, then a supply price will be offered and a formal contracting stage will commence, as per the following overall indicative sequence of events:
We now invite interested cereal straw suppliers in the Ararat region (within ~100km radius) to complete the form below and to register their details with us, with a view to moving forward together to establish a partnership for future development of this exciting project.
Please note that responses to this initial EOI have now been extended and will close on Friday May 28th, 2021, with a series of 'town hall' style forums planned to take place in the interim, to provide a forum to meet, discuss and answer any questions relevant to the project.