The recent Bioenergy Association of NZ liquid biofuels conference in Wellington demonstrated a number of businesses surviving, possibly thriving as part of the country's move to sustainable transportation.
As BANZ's executive director Brian Cox pointed out, with renewable fuels (bioethanol and biodiesel) only making up 0.2% of total transport fuels, New Zealand has a long way to go before reaching the association's target of 30% by 2040.
However, it’s a start, even if the Ministry of Economic Development shows a lukewarm regard to its development - and examples of commercial success can only boost biofuel's increasing uptake.
sticK wasn't able to be at all of the day's proceedings, attended by over 50 people; but points of interest, in no particular order, follow.
• Allied Petroleum, a South Island independent supplier of 9000 (many on-farm) customers, has an increasing biodiesel demand. It has started supplying a Queenstown consortium of 20 members - one way of obtaining the volumes necessary to make it worthwhile for all participants
• There are another 8 consortia for biodiesel outlets in development around NZ
• A BANZ biodiesel accreditation scheme (voluntary) is in development to help give purchasers of the fuel confidence in its performance and provenance
• Anchor's Ethanol plants have been producing bioethanol for 30 years. There is an increasing other market demand for the dairy-derived lactose that produces the ethanol. These other markets may make production of bioethanol from the plants less profitable than other uses of the lactose
• All other world markets/countries, subsidise the production of biofuels. NZ needs to continue with its biodiesel grants scheme to continue its development, until such time as sustainably produced fuel can economically foot it with pumping oil out of the ground. Currently, there is no certainty the grants scheme will continue past June 2012
• Bioethanol use increased 17% in 2010, and biodiesel use increased 7% in the same period (mostly as a blend).