Ethanol key to fuelling a cleaner future

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto with his 900hp custom-built Toyota Supra.

HINCHINBROOK MP Nick Dametto has taken the State Labor Government to task over its “faux support” of the biofuel industry, calling on them to phase out low quality regular unleaded petrol in favour of E10.

With a less than ideal state-wide take up of ethanol blended fuels, including E10 which features a blend of 10 per cent ethanol and 90 per cent petrol, Mr Dametto believes the government needs to act.

“Biofuels like E10 reduce emissions and are therefore a more environmentally friendly alternative to straight unleaded petrol. The figures available to us show a 30 per cent reduction in tail pipe emissions when running a vehicle on E10,” Mr Dametto said.

“Labor has come out and publicly supported the biofuel industry but it’s time to take this to the next level. On the one hand the government is saying they want to help build a domestic biofuel market and on the other they believe in the free market and have stated they won’t regulate the biofuels market to ensure maximum take up. In order to build and add solidarity in any emerging market, the part that government needs to play is through either funding or regulation.

“As consumers we can all do our bit and start making the cleaner, greener choice at the bowser. Using E10 helps the environment and increases demand.”

In the last Queensland parliament, Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) was able to achieve a mandate requiring four per cent of the total volume of regular unleaded petrol sales and ethanol-blended fuel sales by liable retailers to be ethanol-based fuel.

That mandate took effect on July 1, but now the KAP is calling for a 10 per cent mandate by 2025.

“With sugar cane the predominate crop in Hinchinbrook, I know just how beneficial a 10 per cent ethanol mandate would be to farmers and anyone looking to invest in ethanol production in our electorate,” Mr Dametto said.

“But that will hinge on a greater uptake of ethanol blended fuels. This could be achieved by phasing out dirty, low-grade regular unleaded (91 RON) petrol and making E10 (94 RON) our base fuel in Queensland.

“High performance E85 fuel is already available at some service stations and is currently the fuel of choice used by many motoring enthusiasts. Most people shy away from E10 because of clever marketing techniques used by the big oil companies. E10, if blended correctly, would be a 95 RON blended fuel which would be on par with their Premium Unleaded fuels.

“Instead, oil companies are currently holding E10 back at a 94 RON blend and pricing the fuel cheaper to give the consumer the illusion of an inferior product.”
In a Question Without Notice put to Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham in parliament last week, Mr Dametto asked, with the falling world sugar price and farmers looking to value add products like ethanol, whether the government was committed to enforcing the four per cent ethanol mandate and would consider phasing out low-quality regular unleaded for E10 across the state.

In his response, Dr Lynham agreed that the sugar industry needed to diversify but rejected there was a need for re-regulation to enforce the existing four per cent ethanol mandate.

Dr Lynham added that 650 service stations in Queensland now sell E10, an increase of over 290 sites since 2016.

In May, Dr Lynham told parliament that 2.5 per cent of regular petrol sold in Queensland in the last quarter of 2017 was ethanol, up from just 1.5 per cent when the original bio-based petrol mandate of three per cent was introduced on January 1, 2017.

During that speech, Dr Lynham also said the government wanted “80,000 passenger vehicles to swap to E10 to get to our three per cent target”.
Mr Dametto dismissed unfounded concerns about fuel system and engine damage using ethanol blended fuels.

“Most modern vehicles today are equipped to handle E10 fuel and Queenslanders can use the government’s E10 OK website to check if their car is compatible simply by inputting their rego numbers,” he said.

One of Mr Dametto’s own vehicles, a 900HP Toyota Supra, runs on E85, which is a blend of 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent unleaded petrol.
Townsville hosts an annual round of the Supercars Championship, with their race cars also running on E85.

“The Supercars are the perfect platform to promote both the performance and environmental benefits of ethanol blended fuels,” Mr Dametto said.

“The North is home to a strong motorsport community and it would be great to see a greater take-up of this type of fuel. One day a cane farmer might thank you.”

Nick Dametto MP