Biodiesel pumped into Queenstown's tourism industry

A group of Queenstown tourism operators will use and test biodiesel this year in what is touted as the country's first public biodiesel consortium. Developed by Otago Polytechnic's Centre for Sustainable Practice, the consortium involves about 30 Queenstown operators that will run their vehicles on 20% biodiesel mixed with standard diesel, for 12 months. The programme will test the compatibility of everything from four-wheel drive vehicles to 53-seater buses, particularly over extreme temperatures in winter and next summer.

A group of Queenstown tourism operators will use and test biodiesel this year in what is touted as the country’s first public biodiesel consortium.

Developed by Otago Polytechnic’s Centre for Sustainable Practice, the consortium involves about 30 Queenstown operators that will run their vehicles on 20% biodiesel mixed with standard diesel, for 12 months.

The programme will test the compatibility of everything from four-wheel drive vehicles to 53-seater buses, particularly over extreme temperatures in winter and next summer.

The centre hoped 100% biodiesel would be used in the future. It said 100% biodiesel suited marine vessels and it hoped to introduce it to local marine players next.

Fuel is supplied by Allied Petroleum, which sources fuel from state-owned Solid Energy’s Biodiesel New Zealand business, which converts used cooking oil from around the South Island to biodiesel.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) administers the government’s biodiesel grants scheme. Chief executive Mike Underhill said the grants helped biodiesel blends to compete with ordinary diesel on price.

Under the grant scheme up to 42.5 cents per litre for biodiesel or biodiesel content of a biodiesel blend is available to biodiesel producers (based on sales).

EECA also contributed $22,450 to the project, which was used to run workshops for local tourism operators and to develop tender documents (for supply - in this case won by Allied) that can now be used in other interested regions.

“Using biodiesel-blended fuel offers businesses a marketing advantage, particularly in the tourist sector, where visitors are sensitive to environmentally friendly products and services,” Mr Underhill said.

Queenstown Lakes District Council supplied land and seed funding for the refuelling facility along with regional tourism organisation Destination Queenstown.

Destination Queenstown chief executive Tony Everitt said it was an important step forward for tourism.

“This will reflect positively on Queenstown as a destination for an increasingly environmentally aware and sustainability-focused visitor market. Queenstown is the jewel in New Zealand’s tourism crown and it’s very exciting to see many of the country’s major tourism players coming together to build a more sustainable future.”

Biodiesel consortium leader Steve Henry said the project relied on community support, which was focused on developing sustainable practice.

“This isn’t about tree hugging – it’s about fuel security and being serious about our triple bottom line to widen our thinking to evaluate our economic, environmental and social performance.”

For a one-off $50 fee, diesel vehicles could join the consortium, using a swipecard to fill up at a biodiesel pump station at the Lakeview Holiday Park.

Companies already part of the consortium include Nomad Safaris, Kiwi Discovery and Queenstown Rafting, Dart River Jet Safaris, Shotover Jet, Ziptrek Tours and Appellation Wine Tours.

The centre said the 12-month project could be a pilot for the rest of the country.

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