Biodiesel seeks attention

Potential WA biodiesel producer Australian Renewable Fuels last week called for increased Government commitment to alternative transport fuels issues.

While biodiesel production and use in Europe and North America has been growing steadily over the past decade, the industry remains in its infancy in Australia.

Speaking at the Biofuels 2002 conference in Brisbane, Australian Renewable Fuels director Darryl Butcher said an Australian standard, a capital rebate scheme, and excise equality was needed to encourage and support commercial development of an Australian biodiesel industry.

Mr Butcher recognised such an industry was unlikely to attract more than five per cent of the national diesel market, but said there were sufficient niche markets where biodiesel offered unique benefits to justify proceeding to commercial production.

Australian Renewable Fuels, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amadeus Energy, is hoping to commence producing biodiesel next year from a $12 million plant at Picton.

The intended product has been trialled in a range of heavy vehicles within WA, ahead of AFR’s plans to produce an annual 40 million litres from the WA plant, and further intentions to establish four additional plants.

Biodiesel has been shown to be more greenhouse-friendly than ethanol.

Admonishing the Federal Government to include biodiesel under the Diesl and Alternative Fuels Grants Scheme, Mr Butcher said an Australian Greenhouse Office-commissioned CSIRO study concluded biodiesel "was a suitable replacement for low sulphur diesel".

Mr Butcher referred to the results of WA trials of four buses operating on low suplhur diesel, CNG and biodiesel in proposing an energy content method of determining grant levels under the scheme.

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