Just Biodiesel seeks to reclaim promise of alternative fuel

By: Rob McKay

Refuelling Solutions and Viva Energy back initiative as plant reopens

Just Biodiesel seeks to reclaim promise of alternative fuel
Just Biodiesel general manager Greg Boyall, Scania's Anthony King, Indi MP Helen Haines and Bioenergy Australia chairman John Hewson at the plant


Just Biodiesel has officially launched its refinery at north east Victoria’s Barnawatha, just south of Albury at an event in the town.

The move signals the early stages of a possible renaissance for the low-carbon alternative fuel which fell out of favour earlier in the decade due to falling conventional diesel prices, new federal government excise of biofuels and the hangover from reliability and quality issues among some suppliers.

The company and its partners are now seeking business from truck and bus fleets.

Pitching its product as a "renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that is reducing Australia’s dependence on foreign petroleum, creating jobs and improving the environment", Just Biodiesel, in partnership with like-minded distributor and transporter Refuelling Solutions, is building on the foundations of an earlier enterprise and counts supporters in regional transport based in the area.

"A return of 11 former employees to the recommissioned facility is a testament to the leadership of the company and commitment of the locals who have successfully re-commissioned the plant in a four-month period," Just Biodiesel GM Greg Boyall says of the company that is chaired by tallow and rendering firm Oztek Holdings’ MD, Terry McKenna.

"We are confident with the anticipated growth and support from many local suppliers, substantial economic benefits will be achieved for the region."

The company’s formation was finalised last December following the purchase from receiver Korda Mentha the previous May of the plant formerly owned by Australian Renewable Fuels (ARF) and Biodiesel Producers (BPL).

Just Biodiesel director Peter Chomley explains McKenna was instrumental in attracting the initial investment in the plant site and was a driving force in resurrecting the operation.

The plant is now supplying B5 and B20 fuel through distribution partners Refuelling Solutions and Viva Energy.

It is also to begin B100 exports to California in August and is surmounting the audit phase before supplying European Union customers.

Read about Anthony King explaining Scania’s local alternative fuels tilt, here

Feedstock is sourced from plentiful supplies of tallow and used cooking oil (UCO) in the region, both of which are said to be often exported to Asian countries for their own biodiesel feed stock needs.

"Refuelling Solutions has been actively supporting the biofuels industry for 15 years," its MD, Tony Hartin, says of his 30-year-old firm.

"The latest and most exciting chapter is today.

"About two years ago, I met with Terry McKenna and Peter Chomley and realised our shared vision on passion for biodiesel. And here we are today as a key partner of Just Biodiesel for the sales and distribution of this clean-burning renewable future fuel.  

"The real star of today is the exceptional quality of the biodiesel that is produced at the Barnawatha plant and the environmental benefits it can deliver and the reemployment of almost all of the people who have operated [the original plant] and know the magic that that facility can produce," Refuelling Solutions MD Tony Hartin says.

"We, the Refuelling Solutions team, look forward to working with so many of the people here today to deliver our small part in using biodiesel in driving down emissions and choosing to make a positive contribution to our environment."

Chomley notes Hartin introduced the nascent business to Viva Energy 12 months ago, with original plant operations manager Boyall on hand to detail it.

On the export initiative, Chomley says: "The reason for that is quite simple, the biodiesel industry is those two markets is well established and has been [backed] by many years of renewable energy support by governments in those countries.  

"If you take the example of California, biodiesel is 15 per cent of the diesel pool. That’s quite a significant penetration, by anyone’s terms. In Australia, it’s basically zero."

Supporting its exports, B100 from the plant attracts an overseas premium of 5-10 cents per litre net of freight over the domestic diesel price, he says.

One keen participant in the opening event is Scania Australia sustainable solutions manager Anthony King, whose company is working to create a network of alternative fuel supply options for customers running engines suitable for such low-emission fuels.

Scania supplied a prime mover and a bus capable of running on biodiesel for the event that featured Bioenergy Australia chair Dr John Hewson and local federal independent MP for Indi Dr Helen Haines.

Hewson, who is critical of the federal government’s stance on fuel security, sees the initiative as a national positive.

"If you look across regional Australia there are feedstocks spread everywhere, and we don't have a national fuel security strategy and we don't have a national waste management strategy," he says.

Just Biodiesel points out that its product emits 86 percent less greenhouse gas, 47 per cent less particulate matter and 67 percent less emissions.


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