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Australia's Biofuels Productive Capacity to Expand Over Next Five Years

11 July 2013
USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

AUSTRALIA - Biofuels account for approximately one per cent of liquid fuel production in Australia and for less than one per cent of Australian energy consumption. Over the next five years productive capacity will expand but even if planned capacity is fully utilized total consumption will still only represent a small proportion of total liquid fuel consumption.

Overall energy consumption in Australia is growing moderately due to increased energy efficiency. Australia has a renewable energy target which aims to generate 20 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020. However currently this target is primarily being met through development of solar and wind energy.

Currently only one state (New South Wales) has a mandated level of ethanol use of six per cent. A five per cent mandate had previously been proposed for the state of Queensland but is not likely to be implemented in the near future. A proposal for a five per cent mandate nationally has also recently been presented to the Australian Federal Parliament. If passed, this would increase demand significantly.

Australia currently has capacity to produce up to 440 million liters (ML) of ethanol per year with additional capacity of 173ML expected from 2016 onwards. The majority of ethanol fuel sold in Australia is blended at a rate of ten per cent as there are few vehicles capable of running on higher rates of ethanol blend.

In 2012 biodiesel production was approximately 350ML however; total capacity is estimated at 500ML. These facilities primarily use a combination of tallow and used cooking oil as feedstock, depending on availability and cost which varies seasonally. A new plant under construction with expected capacity of approximately 288ML will use soybeans as a feedstock.

Although biofuels currently only account for a small portion of energy production and consumption in Australia, there is significant research and development being conducted into alternative sources of biofuels including several trees species. Australia has also been identified as an optimal location for growing algae which can be used to produce a number of products including biofuel.

Further Reading

You can view the USDA GAIN: Australia Biofuels Annual 2013 report by clicking here.

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