Peter Hall from Scion explains what the Bioenergy Options for New Zealand project is about and why he thinks that exploring the potential of biofuels is important.
Peter Hall is involved in a project called Bioenergy Options for New Zealand. This project looks at different biomass resources that could be potentially used in New Zealand to produce energy. The scientists not only have an interest in ways of making energy, but are also looking into which biomass products have the smallest impact on the environment. One way of reducing New Zealand’s carbon footprint is to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and look at alternative options. However, to determine which biofuel is the best, a lot of research and development must be undertaken to ensure that future energy demands can be met in an efficient way, while reducing detrimental impacts on the environment.
This project was completed in 2009.
The Bioenergy Options for New Zealand study, is looking at a wide range of biomass resources that could potentially be turned into energy, and it’s a way of producing either reduced greenhouse gases or carbon neutral energy. And there’s a wide range of resources that we could use and means of converting it from a raw material into energy that people can use like electricity or heat, or even liquid fuels, and we need to sort of assess the volume of the material, where it is, and what it can be potentially used for.
The ultimate aim is to produce a research and development strategy so that we can look at what research we need to do in order to make best use of our biomass resources.
The government has a couple of strategies in place, which are very long term, but they are trying to get New Zealand to reduce its carbon emissions and its carbon footprint, and one of the ways of doing that is using biomass and carbon neutral forms of energy. But in order to know where we should be spending money on research, we need to know what the resources are to start with and what scale they are and where they are, and what we can make out of them, and then we’re identifying knowledge gaps, technology gaps so that we can come up with a long-term research strategy so that we can meet those government targets. And an example of a government target is that they would like to have significant reductions in the carbon footprint of electricity and liquid fuels by 2040, so it’s looking out a very long term.
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Dr Simon Kingham