Wasting no time: Biohub CEO plans to proceed
INVESTMENT from a private interstate individual has allowed Utilitas Group the funding it needs to advance its industrial biohub in Bundaberg.
Utilitas chief executive Fiona Waterhouse said the new investment, which came through last week, will enable the company to develop the former East Wastewater Treatment Plant and host tenant companies, after a process lasting six years.
Ms Waterhouse said the technology to create materials from biowaste would be significant for the economy of regional communities, but Bundaberg was the ideal location.
“Bundaberg I think is the number one site for biofutures in Australia,” Ms Waterhouse said.
“It’s got a deep water port, it’s got transport … in terms of infrastructure … in terms of base infrastructure it’s sensational.
“In terms of people it’s amazing, there are so many skilled, motivated, capable people looking for opportunities.”
It could also use biomaterials from local industries and from fallow crops.
She said the cost of development of the site for tenant companies tapping into the biohub’s resources, such as water, energy, and data, would be about $18 million within five years.
“We’re going to build up not only energy, water, and waste services on site for tenants, but actually data services on site and the regional community.
“We’re going to put in a data centre and that can scale as we grow that out.”
It was even looking at installing a fish farm facility.
There are two tenants already based at the site, including Bundaberg Regional Council’s laboratory.
A third tenant is due to set up within three months.
Bundaberg mayoral candidate Jack Dempsey said he learned on Monday that Utilitas Group had the funding it needed to proceed with the project.
He said the project had vital economic and environmental significance but was also going to save ratepayers about $1 million.
It would have cost this much to decommission the plant, which was closed after the Rubyanna Wastewater Treatment Plant was opened in 2018.
“This is to be part of the future of having zero waste,” Cr Dempsey said.
“This is for everything, from clothing, textiles, fuels, composts, other bioindustries.”
Mayoral candidate Helen Blackburn said it was fantastic the current council had been able to deliver the biohub to the region.
“As part of the current council I’m proud of that achievement,” she said.
But Cr Blackburn said the biohub was not an election issue for mayoral candidates.
“People want to know what we’re doing moving forward,” she said.
“They can see what we have done.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk revealed the biohub project when endorsed it during a visit to Bundaberg in September 2017.