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Biofuels are fuels produced from biomass such as plant and animal matter. Biofuels are used to provide energy for transport (e.g. a commercial vehicle running on biodiesel) or heat (e.g. a multi-oil burner used to heat a hotel).

Biofuels have been used as an alternative to petrol and diesel for nearly 20 years in countries such as the United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia and most of the European countries. Biofuels are often blended with petrol or diesel to make biofuel blends.

Environmental benefits

Biofuels can be a good alternative to fossil fuels (like petrol) because reduce the impacts on the environment by:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Improving air quality (especially important for businesses working in confined spaces)
  • Coming from a renewable energy source
  • Usually coming from a sustainable energy source (EECA has established a biofuels reporting framework to ensure this is the case)

Uses for biofuels


Biofuels are usually used in transport.  You can switch to bioethanol-blended petrol at the pump where it is available (if your vehicle is currently running on petrol) or you may need to source biofuel (like biodiesel) directly from a producer or oil company and/or install/change your fuel technology.

Find out how to swtich to biodiesel, and read case studies of New Zealand businesses already using biodiesel blends

Fuel for use in vehicles should only be purchased from established fuel retailers.  It is illegal to sell biodiesel or bioethanol that does not meet the Engine Fuel Quality Regulations. 'Backyard' biodiesel may not meet quality specifications and may result in engine damage, so is not recommended.


Biofuel can also be used for heat energy. For example:

  • Lazy Shag which installed a multi-oil clean burn boiler to supply the hostel's hot water by burning used cooking oil from local restaurants. Read the Lazy Shag case study.

More information