Biofueled New Zealand closer as Gull takes leap

By Jacqui Madelin

Associate Energy Minister Pansy Wong fills a Holden with Gull's biodiesel blend. Photo / Herald on Sunday
Associate Energy Minister Pansy Wong fills a Holden with Gull's biodiesel blend. Photo / Herald on Sunday

New Zealand has its first biofuel station now that every pump at Gull's Albany station delivers a biofuel blend. But eco warriors in search of a fully sustainable lifestyle will have to wait a while; there's still very little biofuel in each litre.

Although modern cars can use biofuel blends, many older cars cannot, and few can boast the E85 capability - 85:15 ethanol-petrol - of Holden's latest Commodore.

AA technical advice manager Jack Biddle says though the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority believes biofuel is bullet proof, "If you listen to the new car industry, they say talk to the manufacturer of the car you own for guidance on whether it's compatible. You get to a certain age at which they say it's not recommended, and each has its own set of rules."

For example, most NZ-new Mazdas since 2003 can use E10 - but used imports are rated to E3 only.

Holden's petrol cars can use E10 if built since 2005, and its diesels B5 since 2006. But not before that.

Used imports or not, expect more biofuel in the future. Biofuel is sustainable as it's produced from plant or animal matter.

Rapidly escalating technology is cutting its reliance on food crops. It lowers emissions, is cleaner to run, and reduces our dependance on imported fossil fuels.

It's also cheaper than the conventional alternative because of Government subsidies and its exemption from excise tax.

Gull's latest addition - biodiesel - is sourced from Environ Fuels, a New Zealand company which makes it from used cooking oil.

Gull general manager David Bodger says if demand outstrips supply a summer solution will be fuel derived from tallow, with cooking oil kept for the winter months when tallow solidifies.

He says Gull will roll its biofuel blend out across its North Island network.

- Herald on Sunday

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