September 5, 2007 (News.com.au) AUSTRALIAN biofuel production is expected to double this year to 600 megalitres, far exceeding the Government’s production target three years early.A report by APAC Biofuel Consultants, released in Bangkok yesterday, said annual production of ethanol and biodiesel could reach 1000ML by mid-2009.
This compares with the Federal Government target of 350ML annually by 2010.
APAC’s Mike Cochran said ethanol production was about 120ML at the moment.
“The number of E10 (blended ethanol and petrol) retail sites is expected to exceed 800 by the end of 2007 — around 13 per cent of Australian service stations and almost double the number 12 months ago,” he said.
“There are a number of other ethanol plants on the drawing board. If they come to fruition, ethanol production capacity could exceed 1000ML by 2011.”
Mr Cochran said biodiesel production was facing high feedstock prices and commissioning difficulties.
“However the outlook is improving. The cost of major biodiesel feedstocks such as tallow, canola and imported palm oil are beginning to move down from their highs earlier this year.
“In 2006-07, biodiesel plant production capacity increased by 390ML. A further 210ML capacity is currently under construction, expected to be fully commissioned by the end of 2008, bringing capacity to almost 620ML per annum.”
Mr Cochran said most ethanol and biodiesel plants were still using first-generation feedstocks, which pitted producers against the food market.
Feedstocks for ethanol include crops with a high sugar or starch content such as corn, while biodiesel uses oils such as canola and palm oil.
“Second generation feedstocks, such as microalgae for biodiesel and lignocelluloses for ethanol, are being researched in Australia and overseas and are seen as offering longer-term and more sustainable alternative feedstock sources for the biofuel industry,” he said.