CSIRO reports on greenhouse gas and air quality emissions of biodiesel blends for Caltex

Caltex has welcomed the release of a CSIRO report on greenhouse gas and air quality emissions of biodiesel blends in Australia.  Note that the report was actually commissioned by Caltex and prepared with financial assistance from the Department of Environment and Water Resources so you would hope Caltex were happy with the outcome.

The scope of work for the report was to undertake a life cycle analysis for greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria pollutants on a blend of 2% biodiesel in diesel and to compare its emission characteristics with ultra low sulfur diesel (being a maximum of 50 ppm sulfur) from the Kurnell refinery and extra low sulfur diesel (being a maximum of 10 ppm sulfur) from the Lytton refinery. Biodiesel feedstocks considered in the analysis were canola, tallow, used cooking oil and palm oil.

Some of the more illuminating statements from Caltex Managing Director and CEO Des King in the press release are:

Every litre of diesel supplied from Caltex’s Newcastle terminal is New Generation Diesel containing 2 per cent biodiesel. In addition, Caltex supplies 5 and 20 per cent blends to commercial customers in various locations.

Caltex has not purchased imported palm oil based biodiesel and will not unless it can be shown to be sustainable to the satisfaction of key stakeholders in the countries it is produced.

Caltex supports development of biofuels in Australia. We achieved our volume target for 2006 under the former government’s Biofuels Action Plan and have already achieved our target for 2007. We advocate continuation of this plan under the new Labor government.

The first paragraph of the report Executive Summary provides some interesting information on the GHG emissions that occur prior to processing each of the feedstocks into biodiesel.

The upstream processes of growing and harvesting canola lead to upstream GHG emissions that are approximately 3.5 times higher than upstream emissions from refining the diesel. Tallow has upstream GHG emissions that are approximately 50% higher than the upstream emissions of diesel, whereas those of used cooking oil are slightly lower. Upstream GHG emissions of palm oil depend on whether the plantation was established before 1990, in which case the emissions associated with land clearing and with soil disturbance are not counted as greenhouse gas emissions under present methods of carbon accounting. In this case upstream greenhouse gas emissions are approximately 25% higher than the upstream emissions associated with diesel refining. If, however, rain forest or peat swamp forest is cleared for palm oil growing, then the upstream emissions range from 50 to 136 times higher.

Source: Caltex via North Queensland Register

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One Response

  1. […] at Envirofuel makes the point that the report is commissioned by Caltex, who supply biodiesel in 2, 5 and 20 […]

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