14 Dec 2010

Pine plantations 'biggest potential for NZ biofuel'

8:31 am on 14 December 2010

A forestry scientist says new Zealand has the potential to become self-sufficent in transport fuel, and biofuel produced from pine plantations is likely to be the greatest contributor.

Trevor Stuthridge, sustainable design manager for forestry research institute Scion is one of more than 70 scientists at the inaugural Biofuels Science Symposium in Rotorua.

Dr Stuthridge says a range of natural materials, including wood, grasses and waste, can be turned into biofuels, but there are technical challenges in making them an economic source of biofuel.

The only significant feed-stock available at this point, he says, is says soft-wood from the country's mainly pinus radiata plantations.

Mr Stuthridge says the New Zealand biofuel research community is small, receiving about $10 million in funding annually, so it needs to develop a national research strategy.

He says there's a strong view that the best approach for New Zealand is to adopt and adapt overseas technology.