The Australian biofuels industry is on the cusp of significant new growth as the industry gathers for its 2016 National Symposium in Brisbane next week.
Mark Sutton, the chief executive of the Biofuels Association of Australia, says the industry is looking at a completely different scenario than two years ago, when a combines of Federal Government excise policy and dumping by foreign producers was crippling local production.
“There is a lot to be excited about now because we have security of legislation and policy changes which were both missing previously,” said Sutton.
“The regulatory change has been an absolute game changer. Previously there was regulatory risk at a Federal level and despite a lot of talk about promoting biofuels there was never going to be go major investment, but that has changed now.”
One of the big advances has been the announcement of the Queensland ethanol mandate, which comes into force in January 2017.
Under the legislation unleaded fuel sold in the state will include 3 percent ethanol with 0.5 percent biodiesel mandate.
Queensland joins NSW, where the mandate is 6 percent ethanol and 2 percent for biodiesel.
“Another important initiative will be the implementation of major education campaigns in both of those states to sell the benefits of biofuels to consumers,” says Mark Sutton.
Queensland is shaping a major centre for the industry, with the existing sugar cane industry well placed to provide feedstock.
“Recycled molasses out of sugar can is an excellent feedstock for biofuels,” says Sutton.
“And the State Government there recognises that this is not just about reducing the state’s carbon footprint, but it can be a significant provider of jobs and a driver for the economy.”
Queensland was well placed to deliver fuel to the US Navy’s “Green Fleet” of biofuel powered ships, with the fleet flagship USS Stethem visiting Sydney’s Garden Island.
“The US Navy has been out in Australia this week talking to key stakeholders,” says Sutton.
“The Green Fleet is up and running and I think we will see some major developments in the very near future and some co-operation with Australia going forward.”
Also on the near horizon was the use of biofuels in aviation, with Virgin committed to the project and seeking out suppliers.
“Watch this space and I think we will also see something in the way of announcement very soon,” says Sutton.