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Solid Energy plans major expansions

26 February 2008

Solid Energy plans major expansions of renewable fuel production

Solid Energy is planning major expansions of renewable energy manufacturing capacity, with new biomass and biodiesel production facilities to be built in Taupo and Christchurch.

Solid Energy’s Nature’s Flame business will build a third wood pellet plant in the Aratiatia Industrial Park, north-east of Taupo. It will be capable of producing up to 150,000 tonnes per year of the clean-burning fuel and when operational in the second half of 2009 will confirm the company’s position as the largest producer of wood pellets in the Southern Hemisphere. The other Nature’s Flame plants (at Rotorua and Rolleston,) together can produce 60,000 tonnes.

The Taupo plant’s initial capacity will be 60,000 tonnes a year, and will expand to 150,000 tonnes in the next stage, for which plans are already complete. Nature’s Flame has the long-term supply agreements for the wood residues it needs to support this expansion, which is expected to create at least 10 jobs. Andy Matheson, Solid Energy General Manager Renewable Energy, says the New Zealand market for wood pellet fuel continues to experience good growth and the business will also begin exporting.

“In Europe, North America and increasingly in Asia, wood pellet heating continues to gain market share and there is a strongly growing international trade in pellets,” he says. “In New Zealand, we see continuing demand growth for wood pellets to heat homes, offices and public buildings such as schools. And wood pellets’ near-zero carbon footprint is also making this fuel increasingly attractive to businesses looking for environmentally-sustainable process heat.”

New Canterbury plant will produce high-quality biodiesel
Biodiesel New Zealand has commenced planning for a large-scale production facility at industrial location in Christchurch. Capable of producing 15 million litres of high-quality biodiesel a year, the plant is expected to begin operating late this year. The development is being designed to allow rapid expansion to double production. The expansion will create approximately 15 new jobs.

Biodiesel New Zealand’s three-year target is to produce 70 million litres per year of its transport fuel, approximately half the Government’s total 2012 biofuels target (3.4% cent of all fuel sold). The business currently produces more than 1 million litres a year from a small plant in Christchurch.

Biodiesel New Zealand’s feedstocks include used cooking oil collected from restaurants and food preparation businesses throughout New Zealand, and locally-grown oilseed rape crops. The business already has a nationwide network collecting used cooking oils. The new plant will include a facility to extract oil from harvested oilseed rape grown for the business.

Since Spring 2007, Biodiesel New Zealand has been developing supply relationships with South Island farmers and has successfully completed a trial programme and harvest on 700 hectares. Contracts are now being finalised with growers for more than 6,000 hectares of autumn-sown oilseed rape (OSR) crop.

“Our high-quality biodiesel is made to meet the highest current international standard,” says Andy Matheson. “Our biodiesel’s properties mean it can be used in high-ratio blends without engine modification and we have strong demand from a range of customers who value its characteristics. OSR based biodiesel has superior cold temperature performance, making it particularly suited to New Zealand’s climate. Local biodiesel production also help meet New Zealand’s energy security aims outlined in the recently release Energy Strategy. We have had an enthusiastic response from the farming community and the new plant, our first major step in reaching our initial three- year target, will be operating ahead of next year’s harvest.”


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