Updated: Oct 24, 2022
by Dr Martin Belusko
Green fuels, or renewable fuels, exist to meet the residual energy needed to achieve 100% decarbonisation for our energy system. By definition these fuels are generated from sustainable resources. Implicitly these fuels are made from sustainable but limited resources and/or require many processes resulting in high costs. It is wrong to assume they are meant to be a like for like replacement with existing fuel usage. Fundamentally, they complement renewable energy and energy storage systems, delivering energy a few days during the year or for those applications which are hard to replace such as aviation. Overall, this results in a lower cost energy system than traditional fossil based systems meeting all year round power needs.
There are a variety of Green Fuels:
Green diesel; made from animal fat and vegetable oil, this fuel is a complete drop in replacement for diesel. This fuel is constrained by the availability of these agriculture based ingredients.
Hydrogen gas; made from electrolcysing of water using renewable electricity. This fuel will always be more expensive than using renewable energy directly.
Biomethane; derived from animal waste/sewage and waste from food production, this fuel is a direct replacement of natural gas. Again, the volume is constrained by supply.
First generration Green Fuels, such as biodiesel, ethanol and biogas have limited use. The current options provide full flexiblity, to be used with existing and off the shelf technology at 100% usage levels. Other derived fuels are also being developed to again meet niche demand to replace the use of petrol and LPG.
A fundamental perspective of green fuels is that they must be understood in the context of a highly electrified energy system with solar and wind power. This also applies to the application of transport. The debate around Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) vs hydrogen powered Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCV) in relation to cars, inner city trucking and long haulage transport is often skewed by a lack of attention on the benefits and costs of each technology together with the available solutions on the market.
Many Australian businesses future will be defined by the quality and cost of the Green fuels they are able to supply to their operations. Transport, mining, agriculture and power generation will need effective solutions that include Green Fuels to keep production moving forward. Mondial specialize in the Techno-Economic assessments which incorporate Green Fuels for business, and can help you make complex easy.