The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) sought analysis from GHD about the global and Australian biofuels sectors, including the challenges and opportunities for the further development of the Australian biofuel industry.
GHD considered the magnitude of the challenge to develop a thriving biofuel industry in Australia, including sustainability constraints. It assessed the level of Australian biofuel production consistent with a global transport carbon reduction strategy and considered how biofuels can complement other technologies in the transport sector in particular.
In addition, the report canvassed the potential development of an Australian biofuel industry, outlining policies that have been central to the successful development of the sector in other markets. The economic challenges and broader societal benefits of biofuels relative to fossil fuels were also explored.
- The international transport sector produces 15 per cent of carbon emissions and 23 per cent of fossil fuel emissions globally. In Australia, transport is the second-largest carbon emitter, responsible for 18 per cent of national emissions. In light of global climate change challenges, the transport sector’s emissions must decrease. The challenge is reducing these emissions without impacting the sector’s utility. One solution is to develop a thriving biofuel industry in Australia.
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) identifies biofuel as a major player in the decarbonisation of the transport sector. The IEA projects global annual biofuel production will increase tenfold to 840 gigalitres by 2060. As a proportion of all fuel, the amount of biofuel currently produced in Australia sits below the global average. For the nation to contribute its share of the projected global average in 2060, it needs to increase its biofuel production by a factor of 40 to approximately 20 gigalitres per year.
- Australia’s many geographic, climatic, resource and research advantages should enable it to meet this challenge and become a leader in the field. Australia can also draw on the experience of its small but resilient core biofuel industry. Global employment figures suggest an Australian biofuels production target of 20 gigalitres per year could provide long-term employment for up to 250,000 people, mostly in regional areas.