Kiwi-made milk-based biofuel on the way in New Zealand

Analysis

New Zealand's smallest oil company launched this week the first commercial biofuel to hit the nation's service station forecourts – a petrol blended with ethanol made from milk.

Gull´s Force 10 biofuel is a blend of premium gasoline containing 10% ethanol produced by dairy cooperative Fonterra. It will be sold at Gull petrol stations. Biofuel is any fuel derived from biomass, recently living organisms or their metabolic byproducts, such as manure, forest or crop waste, or even pond scum. In February the Government set a national target of 3.4% for the biofuel component of petrol and diesel in 2012.

Oil companies will have to start offering biofuels from April 1 next year, and the Government has said there will be no excise tax charged on the ethanol. Prime Minister Helen Clark – who has previously announced that New Zealand has the potential to lead the world in renewable energy –launched the Gull product at North Harbour stadium. The official first fill-up was set for Gull´s Greville Road petrol station in Albany.

Miss Clark said in a statement the Government was pleased to see an easily accessible and practical biofuel that motorists could use everyday. „We are serious about providing motorists with real choice and leading the way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” she said. Fonterra´s Edgecumbe dairy factory in the Bay of Plenty successfully tested petrol mixed with 10% ethanol in a 1.8-liter car, in a blend approved by the Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma).

The Edgecumbe plant produces 30,000 liters of ethanol a day and over five million liters in a dairy season. Fonterra also produces ethanol at other plants, including Reporoa and Tirau, for use in industrial cleansers, vodka and gin. Gull – a family-owned operation with 30 petrol stations in the North Island – signed on Fonterra in 2004 to produce ethanol to be added to „premium” petrol. Blending of petrol and ethanol will take place at Mt Maunganui.

It will be pitched to New Zealand drivers of recently-imported vehicles wanting to run the family car on a „green” fuel, according to the general manager of Gull New Zealand Dave Bodger: „If there´s no downside for the choice, middle New Zealand will go for the green option”. He said Gull was responding to public demands for better choice in the retail fuel sector. The Force 10 blend will be included in the Progressive Enterprises supermarket chains´ discounts on fuel purchases.

Gull Petroleum chief executive Wayne Ferrell said petrol with the bio-ethanol additive would not only lower greenhouse gas emissions but would give motorists more power and a higher performance while cleaning their car´s fuel system. The Force 10 fuel will initially be sold at Gull forecourts in Albany, Kingsland, and Wiri, and will later be rolled out to most of its 30 sites. (petrolplaza)

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