Z Energy’s efforts to reduce New Zealand’s reliance on fossil fuels have reached a milestone with the installation of a biodiesel distillation column at New Zealand’s first commercial scale biodiesel plant in Wiri, Auckland.

The plant, which will move into the testing phase in early 2016, will turn inedible tallow, a by-product of the New Zealand meat industry, into 20 million liters of biodiesel a year, with the potential to scale production up to 40 million liters a year.

Z’s General Manager of Supply and Distribution David Binnie said that the biodiesel distillation column will ensure a highly refined, pure finished biodiesel.

"The ability to refine the biodiesel by distillation enables us to use a plentiful local resource to produce high quality biodiesel that exceeds New Zealand’s biodiesel specifications," said Binnie."Fuel burned for transportation makes up around 17 per cent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions. This means Z is currently part of the climate change problem, and we’re not comfortable with that. We want to instead be at the heart of the solution. It will take time, but this $26 million investment is a step towards reducing New Zealand’s reliance on fossil fuels."

David said that Z invested in this plant, even in the absence of a government incentive, because it was important to Z to do the right thing, and also important to many of its large commercial customers who have been increasingly asking for lower carbon options.

"We believe this plant to be a world first - we cannot find evidence of anywhere else in the world where a commercial scale biofuels plant has been built without a grant or other government incentive such as a mandate or tax incentives,” Binnie said. "What has enabled us to be bold enough to invest in this venture has been the commitment from some of our large commercial customers, such as Fonterra, who are trying to find ways to reduce their own carbon emissions.This is an example of New Zealand companies working together to make a difference to our own backyard.”

Fonterra’s General Manager of National Transport and Logistics, Barry McColl, said the Co-operative is pleased that its commitment is helping Z to bring this capability to New Zealand while reducing its own emissions.

"Fonterra is committed to reducing environmental impacts across all of our operations. Transporting more than 18 billion liters of milk around the country every year requires a lot of hours on the road — our fleet travels more than 90 million kilometers over the year — so we’re hugely supportive of initiatives like this that help to reduce our emissions."
Binnie said that Z’s B-5 biodiesel blend (up to 5 percent biodiesel blended with ordinary diesel) works across commercial, industrial and retail diesel vehicle fleets.

"Z’s B-5 biodiesel is a ‘drop in’ fuel that doesn’t require customers to do anything differently with their diesel vehicles because it meets the same strict fuel specifications as ordinary diesel," said Binnie.

Z said its biodiesel will be available to customers in the Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato regions towards the middle of 2016.