14 Sep 2010

Fear that NZ may be left behind in bio-energy developments

1:06 pm on 14 September 2010

The Forest Owners Association says New Zealand is at risk of being left behind in the development of bio-energy alternatives to fossil fuels, unless the Government provides stronger leadership.

Forest owners have joined the Bioenergy Association in producing the country's first strategy on this.

The strategy says New Zealand has the potential to meet more than a quarter of its energy needs and produce nearly a third of its transport fuels within 30 years, from trees and other energy crops and materials that are currently wasted.

But the steps taken so far have been tiny.

While the Government has fronted up with initiatives such as the biofuels grants scheme, Forest owners chief executive David Rhodes says it needs to make a much bigger commitment.

Mr Rhodes says the processing plants needed to convert fuel crops and wastes from pine plantations into vehicle fuels alone would require an investment of about $6 billion.

He says the Government could help in developing the technology with pilot plants.

He says achieving the bio-energy target in the strategy would also reduce New Zealand's carbon emissions by about 4.5 million tonnes per year.