Biodiesel sector pushes for better investment and support to boost national fuel security
By Sourced Externally
March 31, 2022
Australia’s biodiesel sector is calling for renewed state and federal government policies to help improve the nation’s fuel security.
A biodiesel producer says Australia is overlooking a product that could help with fuel security
Private companies have started shifting to biodiesel partly for fuel security reasons, rather than wait for government incentives
Biofuel producers say their sector could spur more regional economic growth
The federal government announced in this week’s budget that it would cut the fuel tax for the next six months after motorists were left paying up to $2.20 for a litre of fuel due to the war in Ukraine.
Biodiesel producers have warned that Australia is over-reliant on the foreign fuel market, and called for better investment and a positive policy shift towards domestic biodiesel.
“There seems to be a huge amount of focus now on fuel security and there’s so many immediate things we could be doing now to support the domestic renewable fuels industry,” Refuelling Solutions Future Fuels manager Simon Roycroft said.
“When you couple that with regional and economic growth opportunities, there’s literally a $30 billion industry.”
Mr Roycroft said other countries were instead benefiting from Australia’s biodiesel, which is made from a range of feedstock —primarily tallow and recycled vegetable oil.
“The large chunks of the world, Europe and North America, are actually embracing and continuing to build capacity,” he said.
“The biggest challenge for this industry will be having the continuity of sustainable feedstock, and Australia is actually feeding the rest of the world and facilitating that growth internationally.”
The push for a shift in policy also comes with the excise rate for domestic biodiesel currently over 19 per cent.
That will gradually rise to 50 per cent in the year 2030 and beyond.
Mr Roycroft said it was important for government to encourage better access to biodiesel and provide choice for people to gradually decarbonise with more immediate results.
“They’re aspirational and I’m sure they will be viable industries, but they are still quite a way forward facing.”
Private companies make the shift for better fuel security
Biodiesel producers say many private companies are now driving their own shift to biodiesel rather than waiting for government initiatives.
Lendlease, a globally integrated real estate and investment group, started using biodiesel in 2016 to help power construction site generators and diesel machinery.
It is trialling a 20 per cent biodiesel blend at the Caboolture Hospital redevelopment and using a 5 per cent biodiesel blend in cranes, generators, boom lifts and excavators on several other Australian projects.
The company reported that the benefits of shifting to biodiesel included increased fuel security by reducing reliance on global oil supply for refined fuel imports, supporting regional industrial development, and reducing carbon emissions.
“Biodiesel plays an important role towards our decarbonisation pathway for construction activities and reducing emissions,” Lendlease Australia head of sustainability Ann Austin said.
The biodiesel industry wants the federal government to push other diesel-intensive sectors to make a shift to biodiesel, by cutting the diesel rebate scheme that benefits industries such as mining and agriculture, and cost the taxpayer more than $7 billion in 2020-21.
“The organisations that are incredibly diesel-intensive are not being incentivised to stop using diesel,” Mr Roycroft said.