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New Zealand's first biodiesel refuelling facility will be launched in Queenstown next week.
The Queenstown Lakes Biodiesel Consortium is the first of its kind in New Zealand and provides access to a supply of B20 blended biodiesel for commercial vehicles.
The consortium has been set up by the Otago Polytechnic's Centre for Sustainable Practice, with funding from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority's biodiesel grant scheme.
The polytechnic's sustainable tourism adviser, Sharon Schindler, said the long-term aim was to introduce the commercial use of biodiesel in Otago and Southland.
"The aim of the consortium is to run a pilot for New Zealand-made biodiesel . . . to help increase the uptake of biodiesel through enabling more fuel self-sufficiency, long-term supply and price security," she said.
The centre would bring together potential biodiesel users to create a "sizeable hub" and broker a commercial supply contract. It needed to get sufficient volumes to enable supply at a price close to mineral diesel, she said.
"The reason for first choosing the Queenstown area for this initiative is because of the strong support offered by the local businesses, and [the] high-profile nature of the target users, mainly operators working with tourists from overseas."
Queenstown Lakes Mayor Clive Geddes had approached Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee over the initiative and received an encouraging response.
She said the use of B20 would be cost-effective for Queenstown, which was some distance from a biodiesel manufacturing plant, if sufficient quantities of fuel were involved.
A meeting of potential biodiesel users was held in Queenstown in October.
She said the business owners showed "tremendous support" for the use of biodiesel fuels.
"Together, interested parties were responsible for around an annual demand of 1.5 million litres of diesel from Queenstown refuelling stations alone.
"Most potential users, however, first wanted to pilot the use of biodiesel before any full switch of their fleets to biodiesel fuels," she said.
Biodiesel has 90% fewer carbon emissions than mineral diesel.
The consortium has secured a supply of B20 blended biodiesel (20% biodiesel, 80% mineral diesel) to run the pilot with commercial business vehicles this year to test summer and winter blends and to check the commercial viability.
Domestically grown rapeseed oil and used cooking oil form the basis of the biodiesel.
Each consortium member has a swipe card for each registered vehicle to access the refuelling facility, located at Cemetery Rd in Queenstown. The joining fee is $50 per vehicle.
The partners in the consortium aim to deliver a competitive price for fuel, which is set each week by Allied Petroleum. The biodiesel price is subsidised by the Government at 42.5c a litre and the consortium levies 3c a litre to cover running costs. The scheme will be launched at Lakeview Holiday Park, Cemetery Rd at 10.30am on Monday.