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Air NZ planes run on pine tree biofuel? It's viable, and MPI wants to see it happen

The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) is putting out a tender for ideas on how to monetise the use of pine trees for biofuel and construction materials.

Recently planted pine trees (file picture). Source: istock.com

Forestry NZ (Te Uru Rākau) director of sector investments Jason Wilson said the Wood Fibre Futures project, which began earlier this year, identified "viable wood-based alternatives to high carbon emitting products such as transport fuel, concrete, steel and coal".

"Having identified the options, we are now looking to accelerate to stage two of the project, which will be to build business cases for attracting international investors to New Zealand," Wilson said.

He said both Fonterra and Air New Zealand had shown interests in using biofuels and biomass products.

"We are now putting out a tender, seeking an organisation with extensive international contacts and experience that can develop compelling business cases for investing in the biofuels and solid fuels sector in New Zealand," Wilson said.

The first stage of the tenders should focus on three main products — biocrude oil, liquid biofuels like sustainable aviation fuel, and solid fuels like wood pellets.

"We have a huge amount of pine in New Zealand that can be used to create these fuels, but we need to attract investment and prove that there is both the demand, and a viable supply, and that is what we are aiming to do by developing these business cases," Wilson said.

"The growing demand for alternatives to fossil fuels has the potential to transform the forestry sector into a provider of biofuels, bioenergy and a range of renewable bioproducts alongside more traditional wood products."