In 2009, Australia imported more than 22% of its fuel needs. An NRMA report released in February 2014 stated that 91% of the nation’s fuel requirements were now imported – a worrying and drastic increase, leading to concerns that by 2030 Australia would have no indigenous refining capacity and would therefore import 100% of fuel needed. In April 2015, yet another Australian petrol refinery was closed, reaffirming those concerns.
Indigenous production of ethanol using widely available feedstocks is a viable way of reducing our dependence on imported fuel. Ethanol is gaining wider community acceptance, and there is support at national and state levels for a greater role for biofuels in transport. However, the Australian Government regulations limit the proportion of ethanol in petrol to 10%. This constraint reflects the reluctance of the motor vehicle manufacturers to honour vehicle warranties when higher blends are used.
Despite this, E10 is available at more than 600 service stations nationally.
In 2010 Holden introduced a range of E85 compliant flex fuel vehicles to the Commodore and Captiva ranges. With the announcement of the closing of Holden’s car manufacturing capabilities in Australia in 2014 unfortunately they have discontinued the range as a cost saving measure. Flexible fuel vehicles able to run on ethanol blends from E10 to E85 have been available in Brazil, Europe and the US for many years and production is growing.
With 98 per cent of the energy used in the transportation industry still derived from fossil fuels, and transportation being responsible for more than a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, it is crucial that we move towards truly renewable and sustainable fuel sources such as ethanol.
The BAA is doing its part in promoting a sustainable ethanol industry in Australia. Choosing a biofuel at the pump is one way you can assist in lowering your carbon footprint and supporting regional farmers and jobs.