The Global Energy Market Welcomes US

By Mike Bryan | June 12, 2012

First, I want to say thanks to everyone who attended, contributed to and sponsored the 2012 Fuel Ethanol Workshop in Minneapolis: more than 2,200 attendees, nearly 300 exhibitors and more than 90 percent of ethanol producers represented. It was indeed a wonderful event and one that demonstrated the vitality of the ethanol industry.

As many of you may know, I live in Australia, and from time to time like to update folks on the biofuels industry here and how things are progressing because not only does Australia provide a potential market for American technology, but the whole of the South Pacific does as well.

Australia is mineral rich and has a huge export mining business of coal, uranium, iron ore, natural gas and other commodities. The economy of Australia is one of the best in the world, but the focus has not been on renewable energy. Interestingly, with all of the mineral resources that Australia has, it is very dependent on imported oil. In fact, the refining industry in Australia is in grave danger of totally closing down because it simply cannot compete with the huge refining capacity in places like Singapore and other Southeast Asian refineries. If this happens, Australia will be forced to import 100 percent of its refined fuel, putting it in a potentially perilous liquid fuel position.

Currently, the state of New South Wales has a mandate in place for ethanol and biodiesel. The requirement is that 6 percent of all fuel contain ethanol and 2 percent of all diesel be comprised of biodiesel. The mandate has run into a bit of trouble, however, in that concerns have been raised about performance and compatibility with the existing automobile fleet (all totally nonsense). In spite of the opposition, the current premiere of NSW, Barry O’Farrell is pressing forward with the mandate with some potential modifications. 

Queensland, the largest state in Australia, has a mandate approved by parliament, but has yet to implement it. There has been a very recent change in government in QLD and the new party in power is reviewing the matter and is expected to make a decision soon. There are several pending ethanol and biodiesel projects that are waiting for a decision on the matter. While other states either have or are considering such legislation, to date NSW and QLD are the only two of the seven states and territories that have adopted a mandate.

The South Pacific islands have tremendous potential for biodiesel and ethanol. There are literally several thousand inhabited islands in the South Pacific that depend on clean water, wastewater treatment, power for their homes and light industry. Not to be flippant, but you can’t simply run an extension cord from the mainland to these islands. Therefore, many of them depend on diesel power to operate their wastewater treatment system, desalinization units, and to power their homes. It is an especially unique opportunity for the biodiesel industry, since many of these islands have ample supplies of feedstocks to facilitate a small biodiesel plant and the available indigenous labor to run the plant.

To sum it up: it’s a big world and a world that is growing increasingly hungry for clean, domestically produced energy. The opportunities abound for those who can think outside the borders of the U.S. and venture out into a global market. It takes planning, coordination, investment, establishing contacts and liaisons, but the rewards can be substantial. While the U.S. market may be somewhat constrained, the global energy market has its arms wide open.

That’s the way I see it.

Author: Mike Bryan
Chairman, BBI International
mbryan@bbiinternational.com