Experts push construction to adopt renewable diesel in the lead-up to net zero

Jarrod Brown
By Jarrod Brown
4 Min Read

A new report is calling on the government to urgently develop a low-carbon liquid fuel policy to help decarbonise the construction industry in the lead-up to net zero in 2050.

Commissioned by the Australian Constructors Association (ACA), the paper claims that, despite being the most promising long-term solution, “technological constraints” will keep the industry’s current strategy of electrifying construction equipment from reaching emissions targets in time. 

According to the document, only 40 per cent of construction machinery will be suitable for electrification by 2030, and only 60 per cent will be suitable by 2040.

The organisation instead urged ministers to look towards the development of domestic renewable diesel, which could be used as a 100 per cent substitute for mineral diesel (allowing the aging machinery to live out the rest of its working life) and achieve a 95 per cent reduction in emissions.

The report also claims an Aussie-based renewable diesel industry would have a range of additional benefits beyond construction decarbonisation, including lower air pollutants and better air quality, energy security, local employment and economic growth from feedstock and refining.

However, with no domestic renewable diesel production of our own, ACA chief executive Jon Davies called on the Government to fill the “policy vacuum” that lags behind other countries. 

“We need to rapidly adopt low carbon liquid fuels to bridge the gap until electric options mature and the best transition fuel for the construction industry is renewable diesel,” said Mr Davies.

“ACA is calling for direct government policy intervention to rapidly accelerate both the supply and demand for renewable diesel in Australia.”

Renewable diesel is only available in Australia through importation at a “high-cost premium” from places like the US, whose production is expected to more than double by 2025. 

To drive the monumental industry shift, the position paper called on ministers to introduce a suite of tax incentives and capital grants to shore up the viability of an Australian renewable diesel industry.

“The policy should plot a clear course for scaling a sustainable renewable diesel industry in Australia using Australian feedstocks. Consideration should be given to the role of fuel carbon intensity standards, tax treatment, as well as capital grants and incentives,” read the report.

“A key outcome should be to prescribe a holistic regulatory framework that builds investment confidence and empowers organisations to rapidly adopt renewable diesel.”

The push comes ahead of a gathering of industry giants for a two-day renewable fuels conference in Canberra, which will include names like Boeing, Qantas, BP, Ampol, Rio Tinto, Lendlease and an address from Industry Minister Catherine King.

The conference, being held at the National Gallery of Australia, will focus on sustainable aviation fuel and renewable liquid fuels to assist the decarbonisation of key industries, including construction, aviation, agriculture, heavy road transport, rail and mining.

Without the policy rework in place, Mr Davies said the high cost of the adoption would leave renewable diesel at a “competitive disadvantage” against the current mineral fuel. 

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Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.