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New Zealand Targets 3.4% Biofuels Obligation by 2012

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced that a Biofuel Sales Obligation will be set at 3.4% of the annual energy content of total annual gasoline and diesel sales by 2012. The original proposal for an obligation mooted in September 2006 had proposed a 2.25% target by 2012.

New Zealand currently has a voluntary target for the use of biofuels in New Zealand of least 2 Petajoules a year by 2012. Under current estimates, that’s about 65 million liters of biodiesel or bioethanol, or around 1%.

In her speech to parliament, the Prime Minster said that the initial target “is considered sufficient to encourage the uptake of biodiesel and the development of infrastructure for ethanol distribution.

The Biofuels Sales Obligation can be met with any biofuel sold as a direct replacement for gasoline or diesel in New Zealand. The biofuels can be produced domestically or imported and can be sold at any blend level provided they meet fuel quality specifications. The proposed obligation will include a roll-over option for year 1 and year 2 (2008 and 2009) so firms can delay providing biofuels to the market in the short-term. As biofuel supply is not an existing industry, the government has said, it is recognized that it may be practically difficult to supply biofuels in the early years of the obligation.

The New Zealand Petroleum Products Specifications Regulations 2002 (PPSR) currently allows for up to 10% bioethanol content in gasoline but does not give any specifications for bioethanol quality. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) has set up a voluntary bioethanol specification, which provides that:

  • The bioethanol must be of biological, not petroleum origin;

  • The bioethanol must meet the requirements of American Society for Testing and Materials standard ASTM D4806-01, with the exception that the bioethanol must be denatured by the addition of at least 1% regular or premium gasoline (as required by the New Zealand Customs Service), with the added gasoline meeting the PPSR;

  • Corrosion inhibitor must be added such that the resulting bioethanol-petrol blend has comparable corrosion properties to the base petrol; and

  • The bioethanol-petrol blend must meet the requirements of the PPSR.

The PPSR does not specifically provide for biodiesel. A New Zealand biodiesel standard entitled Automotive Biodiesel – Specification for manufacture and blending (NZS 7500:2005) came into being in 2005. This standard provides specifications for biodiesel manufacture (i.e. a pure biodiesel or B100 specification). It also provides a blending specification that allows for up to a 5% biodiesel-diesel blend for retail sale, and requires that retail blends meet the diesel specification in the PPSR. The standard also specifies some allowable properties for non-retail biodiesel-diesel blends.

The Prime Minster also announced a number of new sustainability priorities for the government this year, which among other items, include that as the VIP car fleet of the Department of Internal Affairs is replaced, vehicles which are more fuel efficient and have lower emissions will be acquired. She said that this will lead to 550 fewer tonnes of CO2 being emitted, 400,000 fewer liters of fuel being used, and $500,000 being saved over three years.



Rafael Seidl

NZ only has a few million inhabitants, but all contributions count. The country has a lot of land but much of it is pristine wilderness that you wouldn't want to see turned over to energy crops.

The country's lamb and mutton industry could provide some animal fat feedstock for biodiesel, but it woun't amount to a whole lot and cost a minor fortune. More likely, they will seek to import vegetable oils and molasses from Asia, even if that means some rainforests will be destroyed or the prices of staple foods will go up for the locals. Europe will do much the same, on a much larger scale.

Does anyone know if the Northern Territories of Australia would be suitable for growing Nipah palms?


NZ banned the harvest of native forest more than a decade ago, leading to the creation of huge plantations of Pinus Radiata, a pine tree that grows very rapidly in this environment. This will likely be the biggest feedstock for their bioethanol.

Their largest export is milk solids. The waste from this is another likely source of feedstock.

Also, there is a NZ company that has been mentioned here repeatedly that grows algae on human waste processing plants as a biodiesel feedstock.


NZ currently has around a million hectares under plantation (mostly pine) forestry. Much of this is ideal for the production of ethanol, as is converting a smallish percentage of farm land (often under rotational systems) to fodder beet or sugar beet in the north island, should provide plenty of feedstock for bio-ethanol production. Work is already under way on animal fat bio-diesel, with plants already operating and scope for plenty more.

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