Taxpayers stump up half the research budget for a feasability study for converting forestry waste to biofuel

Taxpayers stump up half the research budget for a feasability study for converting forestry waste to biofuel

Content supplied by MPI

An innovation programme that will pave the way for generating more value from forestry waste by converting it to liquid biofuels is to receive government funding through the Primary Growth Partnership.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has approved co-funding of $6.75 million for the 14-month ‘Stump to Pump’ PGP programme.

Stump to Pump partners Norske Skog and Z Energy will match funding of $6.75 million, bringing the project’s total funding to $13.5 million.

This relatively short-term PGP programme will study the feasibility, including the cost-effectiveness, of making biofuel from forestry waste.

It will determine the commercial viability of establishing a modular test plant to process New Zealand forest waste into sustainable transport fuel.

Currently, the material left over after harvesting and processing, such as sawdust, bark and harvest residue, has little or no value.

“If this material can be used commercially, then we can maximise the value of every tree harvested to the benefit of our primary sector and our economy,” says MPI’s Acting Director-General Roger Smith.

"If this technology can be commercialised, the estimated economic benefit for New Zealand over the next 20–25 years is an annual increase in GDP of up to $1 billion and the creation of 1,200 direct jobs.”

“The biofuel plant that we’re investigating could potentially process around 50,000 tonnes of forest waste per annum and cost in the order of $80-$100 million,” says Peter McCarty of Norske Skog.

“Such a plant would take the industry to the next level in its goal of commercialising this new technology.”

“There are also significant sustainability and environmental benefits”, says Z Energy Chief Executive Mike Bennetts. “Z is committed to renewable transport fuels being available to New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses. This project is an opportunity to explore a value chain that could deliver large volumes of biofuels for New Zealand over the long term.”

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