Australia will soon be producing synthetic petrol and LPG, thanks to a new facility being built in north-west Tasmania.
Tasmania will soon be home to the first synthetic fuel plant in Australia.
Global synthetic fuel company HIF – which has received financial backing from Porsche – has announced the establishment of HIF Tasmania, with the island state set to produce up to 100 million litres per year of synthetic carbon-neutral fuel.
Synthetic fuels (or eFuels) are manufactured by harvesting CO2 from the environment, and then using renewable electricity to create hydrogen and combine it with the captured CO2 to produce different products used in cars and aeroplanes.
The idea being that the vehicles will only be emitting CO2 that had already been captured and removed from the environment, rather than releasing new CO2 into the atmosphere by burning oil-derived hydrocarbons.
HIF Tasmania says it will be producing ‘eGasoline’ as a replacement for unleaded petrol for use in cars, as well as LPG and jet fuel.
“Porsche is investing in an attractive business area with its stake in HIF Global,” said Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche, in April 2022.
“Synthetic fuels offer attractive prospects across transportation sectors, from the automotive industry to the aviation and shipping sectors.”
Rather than capturing CO2 from the atmosphere, the Tasmanian facility – located around 30 kilometres south of Burnie – will be gathering CO2 from biogenic sources, which could include the combustion, decomposition, or processing of biologically-based materials.
The company says it will save 260,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually when the plant comes online in mid 2026.
“Our global plan is to produce over eight billion litres a year of carbon-neutral eFuels – enough to decarbonise five million vehicles,” HIF Global CEO Cesar Norton said at the announcement.
“Australia has exceptional renewable energy resources that can be transformed into liquid fuels and used in existing engines,” he said.
“Today, we begin the first step in Tasmania to produce hydrogen from renewable energy, capture carbon dioxide from a biogenic source and produce highly competitive eFuels that will be the carbon neutral energy of tomorrow.”
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The news comes just days after the European Union agreed on proposed laws which will mandate a 100 per cent reduction in tailpipe emissions from new cars by 2035 – but with a last-minute exemption for internal-combustion engines powered by eFuels.
It’s believed pressure from Germany and Japan – home to many of the world’s largest carmakers – led to the provision for synthetic fuels, which is expected to help reduce the carbon footprint of some countries that do not have the infrastructure or financial ability to switch to electric vehicles within the timeframe legislated.
As well as potential environmental benefits, the Tasmanian facility could also play a pivotal role in the fuel security of Australia, with the majority of the country’s fuel currently refined overseas and vulnerable to supply-chain disruptions.
HIF Tasmania says construction of its plant will begin in 2024, and will “[prioritise] local employment and technology”.
Ben Zachariah is an experienced writer and motoring journalist from Melbourne, having worked in the automotive industry for more than 15 years. Ben was previously an interstate truck driver and completed his MBA in Finance in early 2021. He is considered an expert in the area of classic car investment.