Kalfresh has secured the State Government green light to build an agricultural value-adding precinct featuring Australia’s first renewable energy facility to turn plants and waste into power, gas and fertiliser.

The Scenic Rim Agricultural Industrial Precinct (SRAIP) will be developed on a 40ha site in the heart of the productive Fassifern Valley, an hour south-west of Brisbane. The Precinct is a Queensland Government Coordinated Project, and the Coordinator-General Gerard Coggan has released his Evaluation Report recommending the project proceed.

Read the QLD Government Ministerial Statement

“The release of the Evaluation Report is a significant milestone in this project and provides a pathway for us to realise our vision to co-locate food manufacturing and renewable energy in the Scenic Rim,” says Kalfresh CEO Richard Gorman.

The Precinct will provide a home for agricultural value-adding and advanced manufacturing businesses to establish in the region where the raw ingredients grow, delivering more than 1000 new skilled, secure jobs.

But it’s Kalfresh’s bioenergy plan that promises to deliver Queensland an innovative carbon-neutral future, showcasing a unique closed-loop model that converts agricultural and food waste into gas to fuel trucks, buses and industry, electricity for the grid, and biofertiliser for the soil.

It’s an Australian first and fully developed, the 10MW-equivalent bioenergy plant will receive up to 388,000-tonnes of feedstock a year and reduce carbon emissions by 430,000-tonnes a year, the equivalent of planting 7-million trees a year. 

“This is about future-proofing agriculture in south-east Queensland by creating new diversified markets for value-added food, beverage and fibre products and returning manufacturing to the region,” says Kalfresh CEO Richard Gorman.

“We want to co-locate manufacturing with the industries from within the supply chain that feed the nation and reverse the food import trend. 

“The Scenic Rim will transition from a place that grows the raw ingredients back to a place that value-adds those ingredients and converts them into a range of high-value products, including energy.

“Our renewable energy plant will use anaerobic digestion to convert agricultural waste, food waste and dedicated feedstock crops into a range of new products, including a carbon-neutral diesel replacement for trucks and buses.”

Stage 1 of the bioenergy plant will generate 1.6MW and produce heat, electricity and digestate fertiliser by co-digesting agricultural and food waste, and energy feedstock crops.

Fully-developed the facility will increase to 10MW and also produce a renewable compressed natural gas, to fuel trucks and buses and power industrial manufacturing. Fully-developed the facility will be capable of producing approx. 1.6PJ of renewable natural gas a year – enough fuel for 26,000 truck journeys from Brisbane to Sydney.

“The system can also generate electricity 24/7, irrespective of the weather, which we’ll use to power the Precinct and return to the grid,” says Mr Gorman.

“There is also an opportunity to produce a food-grade carbon dioxide gas, which is in short supply, for use in beverage production and because we’re farmers we can use the by-product of the energy process, digestate, as a natural fertiliser for soil nutrition, reducing our reliance on synthetic fertilisers.

“This closed-loop energy model value-adds at every stage and will be a first for Australia, but is well-advanced in Europe, the UK and America, where commercial truck fleets for Amazon, Waitrose Supermarkets and LA County buses and rubbish trucks are now running on gas produced from agricultural waste.”

The SRAIP has been more than five years in the making and the approvals process has been overseen by the Queensland Office of the Coordinator-General since the project was first declared a Coordinated Project in May 2019.

Kalfresh will spend approx. $55-million establishing the Precinct site and building the bioenergy plant.

“Receiving the green light from the Queensland Coordinator-General, Gerard Coggan, paves the way for agricultural manufacturing businesses to invest in new greenfield, high-tech factories in the Scenic Rim,” says Mr Gorman.

“Manufacturing and value-adding in the farming region means businesses can be operationally more efficient, be more competitive in domestic and international markets, and can deliver products to customers faster and achieve better shelf life.

“The Scenic Rim is a beautiful region that’s been a powerhouse of agriculture for generations. We have fertile alluvial soil, secure water, incredible weather and we’re less than an hour to retail distribution centres, the central markets, and air, rail and sea ports.

“We’re so excited by the possibilities this project brings, not only for our business, but for Queensland agriculture, local farmers, and the wider community. As well as feeding the nation, we’ll be powering it too.”

Scenic Rim Agricultural Industrial Precinct Fast Facts

  • Up to 641 FTE jobs during construction
  • Up to 475 FTE long-term operational jobs
  • Catalyst for expansion of competitive food and beverage manufacturing
  • Home to Australia’s first on-farm closed-loop co-digestion system that will generate green power, green gas and biofertiliser
  • Stage 1 will be a 1.6MW bioenergy plant, scaling to 10MW fully developed, delivering a new reliable, repeatable green energy source to empower regional Queensland
  • Home to purpose-built factories for the value-adding of food, beverage and fibre products
  • Provision for agricultural research, innovation and technology services to support the industry