August 2008

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This page includes information on news and events in August 2008. (News and events are archived here at the end of the month.)

Events

News

  • Biofuel buses could hit end of line, 26 August 2008 by the Globe and Mail (Canada): "Amid concerns over rising fuel costs and the growing worldwide debate over the environmental benefits of biofuels, Toronto's transit agency will consider abandoning the use of biodiesel for its massive bus fleet."[2]
  • Roundtable Reveals International Biofuel Standard, 25 August 2008 by Worldwatch Institute. "Proponents praise the standards as an attempt to improve biofuel production even though the impact of the fuels is not fully known. Others argue that the standards will encourage the consumption of a fuel source destined to cause harm."
  • Biofuels, food crops straining world water reserves, 24 August 2008 by AFP: "Burgeoning demand for food to feed the world's swelling population, coupled with increased use of biomass as fuel is putting a serious strain on global water reserves, experts said".
    • Scientists predict that "we will only be able to 'meet food demands by 2050 if we have a much more efficient use of water...That does not include the water we need for all that biomass'".
  • Can Biofuels Be Sustainable?, 20 August 2008 by ScienceDaily: "Research published this month in Agronomy Journal examines one biofuel crop contender: corn stover."
    • The researchers "suggest that a portion of corn stover could be harvested for biofuel production without reducing soil organic carbon levels in high yielding systems. However, since this study did not study the direct impact of stover removal, that aspect remains to be evaluated."
  • Water expert slams biofuels at global conference, 18 August 2008 by Forbes: British professor John Anthony Allan, "winner of the Stockholm Water Prize on Monday slammed the growing use of biofuels", and "said the effect of the growing use of biofuels 'is too frightening to even begin to realize.'"[4]
  • Compost bug offers hope for biofuel industry, 15 August 2008 by The Guardian: "A detritus-loving bug found in garden compost heaps has been genetically 'turbo-charged' to help it break down tough plant matter at speed, a process that could be about to transform the way the world makes biofuels"
    • "Unlike the yeasts traditionally used in brewing and bioethanol production it is more tolerant of tough plant matter, so raw materials such as grasses, willow, forest waste, wheat stalks and waste cardboard could all be converted into fuel."
  • Sugar Supplies to Tighten Despite Big Stocks, 14 August 2008 (Reuters). "The world is sitting on a huge stockpile of sugar, but the global supply outlook will tighten into next year due to rain-induced crop problems in Brazil and falling output in India, auguring for higher prices."
  • Genomics Of Plant-based Biofuels, 14 August 2008 by ScienceDaily: "Genomics is accelerating improvements for converting plant biomass into biofuel— as an alternative to fossil fuel for the nation's transportation needs, reports Eddy Rubin, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), in the journal Nature."
    • ""Rubin lays out a path forward for how emerging genomic technologies will contribute to a substantially different biofuels future as compared to the present corn-based ethanol industry — and in part mitigate the food-versus-fuel debate.""
  • PetroVietnam sets up biofuel firm, 10 August 2008 by VietnamNet: "The Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) is establishing a biofuel production and distribution company....The company will produce ethanol, from cassava".
    • "The project is a part of the biofuel development programme, ratified by the Government last year. The programme aims to develop strategies for 2015 with a vision to 2025 for the production of renewable energy and the partial replacement of traditional fuels."
    • "As part of the programme, around 250,000 tonnes of ethanol and vegetable oil will be produced to meet 1 per cent of the country’s petroleum demand by 2015."
    • "Viet Nam has the potential to develop biofuel from sugar cane, cassava and seaweed, among other sources. In addition, by-products like rubber, fish fat, and recycled lubricants can be used to manufacture fuels that replace petrol."[6]
  • Most biofuels (in UK) fail to meet environmental standards, 8 August 2008 by MotorsToday, UK: "Less than a fifth of biofuels in UK vehicle tanks meet environmental standards, new data on the fuels shows."
    • "The first monthly report on the supply of biofuels showed that 19% met standards aimed at preventing problems such as deforestation, loss of wildlife, pollution and water contamination".
    • "The report from the Renewable Fuels Agency also showed that both the plant crop used and the country it came from are only known in slightly more than half (57%) of biofuels".
    • "It also said greenhouse gas savings of 42% on conventional fuels were achieved - but that did not take into account the possible emissions associated with "indirect" impacts such as clearing forests for cropland."
  • Climate Camp targets biofuel site, 7 August 2008 by BBC News: "Environment demonstrators have targeted a biofuel depot in Essex [(UK)] as part of a week-long Climate Camp being held across the River Thames in Kent."
    • "The climate activists are concerned about the impact petrol and diesel, made from plant materials, are having on the environment."
    • "'Far from being a solution to climate change, agrofuels are so damaging they make petroleum look green,' said Climate Camp spokesman George Monbiot."[7]
    • Additional coverage from The Guardian (7 August 2008): "The protesters said companies such as Greenergy and Tesco, which use the depot for biofuel supplies, were causing food price rises, world hunger, ecosystem destruction and accelerated climate change."
      • "Julia Brownlow, one of the protesters, said: 'Agrofuels are destroying the very ecosystems which can stabilise the climate - with the collapse of the Amazon possibly just a few years away I am left with no choice but to take action.'"[8]
  • Texas Biofuels Waiver Request Shot Down, 7 August 2008 by Environment News Service: "The Bush administration today denied a request by Texas to cut the U.S. biofuels mandate in half, rejecting the claim that the massive increase in corn-based ethanol is causing economic harm to the state's livestock industry and raising food prices."
    • "Today's announcement came in response to a request made in April by Texas Governor Rick Perry, who asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to cut the RFS mandate by 50 percent."
    • "Perry ... argues that demand for ethanol is responsible for corn prices that reached record levels in June, up nearly 120 percent from 2007. Those high corn prices that are harming his state's cattle and poultry farmers, Perry said in his request, and are being passed onto consumers in higher food costs."
    • "But the head of the EPA disagreed. The RFS mandate is not causing the "severe economic harm" required by law to waive the requirement, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said today."
  • Malaysia, Indonesia to cooperate on biofuels, 5 August 2008 by Reuters: "Malaysia and Indonesia will cooperate in a biofuel development program, and may use the same biofuel specifications and amount of blending, Malaysia's commodities minister said on Tuesday."
    • "Indonesia and Malaysia, the world's top two palm oil producers, together account for more than 80 percent of the world's crude palm oil output."
    • "Indonesia's state oil firm, Pertamina, uses a 2.5 percent blend of biofuel in diesel fuel, and plans to increase the blend to 5 percent, depending on the biofuel price."[9]
  • Experts clash over viability of biofuels, alternative energy, 3 August 2008 by the San Francisco Chronicle: "Pre-eminent UC Berkeley scholars clashed Saturday over whether biofuels will help solve the energy crisis. ... The university's College of Natural Resources hosted a panel discussion called 'The Future of Biofuels?'".
    • "Biofuels "hold particular significance at UC Berkeley because the university recently teamed with oil giant BP to discover better biofuels and research other alternative energy sources."
    • "Tad Patzek, an outspoken critic of the biofuels industry and a geo-engineering professor...said biofuels are vastly overhyped. ... Patzek said it would take food for 36 billion people - or six times the population of the Earth - to make enough ethanol to power the cars of every American."[10]



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