Thursday, January 28, 2021

Biofuels are back

A part of this morning's transport announcement which hasn't got a lot of attention yet: biofuels are back:

“Our Government has agreed in principle to mandate a lower emitting biofuel blend across the transport sector. Over time this will prevent hundreds of thousands of tonnes of emissions from cars, trucks, trains, ships and planes.

“There are economic opportunities for New Zealand in strengthening our clean green brand, encouraging innovation and creating jobs. It will also help our economic recovery. A biofuel mandate has the potential to create jobs and boost the economy through encouraging a local industry.

Transport Minister Michael Wood has confirmed that this is basicly the 2008 policy, which was repealed by National along with its gutting of climate change policy the moment they gained power. When they first put it up for consultation in 2006 I thought it was a pretty good policy. Since then the techhnological background has changed: EVs look like the transport solution, so biofuels are more going to be a bridge fuel on the way to electrification. But they'll likely have a longer future for heavy transport, and particularly for air and sea travel. Meanwhile, we've also got the benefit of an extra fifteen years of research on sustainability (which in NZ means making them out of trees), fifteen years for fossil fuel companies to understand the need, and some local adoption already (both Gull and Z already sell biodiesel). So reintroducing this looks to be an easy thing we can do, and the consultation should be largely a question of "how far can we move and how fast" rather than the "don't wanna, don't wanna" we had back in 2006.