The New Zealand Government has announced a new mandate to integrate sustainable liquid biofuels into its transport fuel mix, in a move that has been applauded by the bioenergy sector. The new policy would require fuel suppliers to reduce carbon emissions by 3.5% by 2025.
“The biofuels mandate will encourage investors to build biorefineries and use the large amounts of biomass and organic waste which we currently landfill or leave in the forest,” said Brian Cox, Executive Officer of the Bioenergy Association in a statement. “These resources currently being wasted are valuable for replacing fossil fuels and have the added advantage of creating new business and employment opportunities.”
The relatively small biofuels market in New Zealand has previously been something of a barrier in the uptake of sustainable biofuels, but the new mandate is a sign that times are changing.
Talks are already underway to convert the country’s only oil refinery (Marsden Pt) into a biofuel production facility, while the Climate Change Commission’s latest report says road transport can be almost completely decarbonised by 2050, and all cars imported by 2035 must be electric.
While electric vehicles (EV’s) are an increasingly viable and popular alternative for general transportation, the need for specialised vehicles in some sectors (such as agriculture) have left something of a gap in the market. A gap that biofuels can seemingly meet.
“Drop-in biofuels such as renewable diesel have a huge advantage for transport operators because the fuel can be used in existing engines so owners do not have to throw away their good existing vehicles, and buy new ones,” Cox said. “They just use the fuel in their existing vehicle. Renewable diesel is also ideal for South Island rail which can’t be electrified.”
New Zealand has current targets of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, with the Commission’s latest report laying out the necessary changes to be made to meet this aim. The Government is anticipated to modify its policies and plans in accordance with the report’s findings by the end of this year.