A Viable Biofuels Industry in Australia?

Issue Date:
Aug 15 2007
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
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Transport fuels in Australia are overwhelmingly based on petroleum products; petrol, diesel and LPG are the primary fuels. The concept of ‘peak oil’ is now within the arena of public debate with the realisation that this will result in rapidly increasing oil, and therefore transport fuel, prices. When this is coupled with instability in areas of the world that contain most relatively easily extractable oil reserves, and hence supply security issues, at least two drivers for the exploration of alternative transport fuel supplies are clear. One alternative to supply at least the part of Australia’s future transport fuels is the range of biofuels that can be made from agricultural products such as sugar, wheat and oilseeds. There are, however, a myriad of issues associated with that simple statement. These include: • how much of Australia’s fuel needs can be met from biofuels? • the potential competition between food and ‘energy’ crops • do we have the water/soil quality to make the impact required? • how do biofuels compare with alternatives such as gas and coal conversion to liquids? • would a carbon price enhance the uptake of biofuels? • is there a role for genetic modification of energy crops? • what is the impact of ‘second generation’ conversion technology? • what policy regime should be adopted to optimise biofuels viability? From the above incomplete random list of issues, it can be seen that they are a complex mix of economics, technology and policy. This paper examines the current state of the biofuels industry in Australia and explores possible futures for the biofuels industry in the light of the issues above.

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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