Can Holden really bring second generation E85 to Australia?

Holden (General Motors) has gained a lot of press coverage from the fact that they are going to introduce locally-built cars that are capable of running on E85 by 2010. The press release was picked up by most major news providers so it was virtually impossible to miss. Just in case you did miss it, here is what the Sydney Morning Herald has to say.

Unfortunately none of the news providers appear to have examined where the ethanol to fuel these vehicles is going to come from and how beneficial it will really be for the environment.  Holden says they are in talks with Coskata in a bid to establish cellulosic ethanol production in Australia. That’s great. The sooner we can move to second generation biofuels the better but a quick read of the Coskata web site suggests their technology isn’t proven on a commercial scale and it also highlights the fact that General Motors made an unspecified investement in Coskata in or before January 2008.

There is no doubt Holden have the technology to produce vehicles that run on E85. General Motors already have the Saab BioPower on sale in Australia and Holden will have access to a raft of flex-fuel technologies from their parent company in the US. The concern here is Holden’s ability, through Coskata, to bring second generation ethanol to Australia at the scale required to fill the fuel tanks of their E85 vehicles. If Holden can’t do this by 2010 they will be expanding the market for first generation ethanol and we’ll be going through the fuel-for-food and first generation ethanol lifecycle emissions debate all over again.

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