5 Aug 2010

Lack of biofuels industry investment lamented

2:18 pm on 5 August 2010

A long-established biofuels researcher and advocate says lack of investment money is the biggest single obstacle blocking the development of an alternative fuels industry in this country.

Dr Jim Watson was formerly with the Biojoule company and then the international group Pure Power, working on a proposal to manufacture a petrol subsitute, bio-ethanol, from willow and other plants.

That project was unable to get funding for a pilot processing plant and Dr Watson is now working with a New Zealand syndicate that's continuing to explore biofuel options, using wood waste and algae.

He agrees with the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment that the most practical option for New Zealand is to develop a biodiesel industry based on wood grown in forests.

Dr Watson says the technology for converting wood to biodiesel still needs to be refined. But the biggest challenge, he says, is getting the funding to build processing plants.

Nor will a biofuel industry develop, he says, without more Government involvement - and that needs to include subsidies.