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New Zealand's first commercial-scale biodiesel plant begins commissioning

The first delivery of feedstock to Z Energy’s NZ$26 million (≈ EUR 15.4 million) biodiesel plant at Wiri, Auckland marks the beginning of the commissioning phase for the project that will start to produce high quality, sustainable biodiesel later this month. At the plant’s peak of production, it will produce 20 million litres of biodiesel annually, which will be supplied as blended with fossil diesel to both commercial and retail customers across much of the upper half of the North Island.

Receiving the first consignment feedstock, consisting of inedible tallow, marks the start of the commissioning phase for Z Energy’s 20 million litre-per-annum biodiesel plant, New Zealand’s first commercial-scale plant (photo courtesy Z Energy).

Z Energy Ltd, New Zealand’s largest fuel distributor and retailer, has announced that the country’s first commercial-scale biodiesel plant has received its first delivery of inedible tallow, which enables the beginning of biodiesel production.

Z’s General Manager of Supply and Distribution, David Binnie, said the delivery of tallow was a milestone which has been years in the making.

We’re now ready to start producing a more sustainable transport fuel for customers that want to do their bit for a lower carbon future when they fill up. As an existing by-product of the meat industry, tallow is the perfect feedstock for bringing biodiesel to New Zealand. It doesn’t compete with food production and would otherwise be exported as a low-value commodity in the production of soap and candles and some overseas biofuel production, said Binnie.

According to Binnie, the plant will use about 12 percent of New Zealand’s production of inedible tallow, meaning that there was plenty of scope to build additional biodiesel plants if customers continued to demand it. The tallow and the design of the plant enable the production of a very pure, high-quality biodiesel which is safe to use in engines and meets all of New Zealand’s fuel specifications.

We’ve been delighted by the leadership and strong backing from foundation commercial customers like Fonterra, Fulton Hogan, NZ Post, Downers and TIL who have provided the support to enable us to build this plant with confidence. The production of 20 million litres of sustainable biodiesel provides an opportunity for other businesses to take similar leadership in taking small steps to lower their own carbon footprint. Given the rural origin of the feedstock, there is an opportunity for the rural sector to close the cycle by also choosing to use our biodiesel, said David Binnie.

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