August 2010

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Bioenergy > Timeline > 2010 > August 2010

This page includes information on News and Events in August 2010. (News and events are archived here at the end of the month.)



  • UK biofuels 'falling short' on environmental standards, 31 August 2010 by BBC: "The Renewable Fuels Agency says it is disappointed that the vast majority of biofuels sold on UK forecourts do not conform to environmental standards."
    • "The body said fuel suppliers were meeting legally binding volume targets but some were falling 'well short' on achieving voluntary green standards."
    • "Figures released by the RFA show that just 33% of biofuels met an environmental standard, well short of the 50% goal for 2009/10."
    • "Currently under the RTFO, only the volume target is mandatory; the carbon savings and environmental standards goals were voluntary."
    • "However, this is set to change when the EU Renewable Fuel Directive (RED) comes into force at the end of the year, which will expect member states to ensure the biofuels meet both environmental and carbon saving criteria."
    • "Under RED, member states will also be expected to ensure that 10% of transport fuel is from a renewable source by 2020."[1]
  • Banks Grow Wary of Environmental Risks, 31 August 2010 by New York Times: "After years of legal entanglements arising from environmental messes and increased scrutiny of banks that finance the dirtiest industries, several large commercial lenders are taking a stand on industry practices that they regard as risky to their reputations and bottom lines."
  • Land grabbing for biofuels hits Ghana, other African countries – Report, 30 August 2010 by Emmanuel K. Dogbevi: "There appears to be a gradual but ominous attempt to turn Africa into the production centre of some selected food crops and non-food crops for the production of biofuels to feed industry and vehicles in Europe."
    • "According to [a recent report by the environmental group, Friends of the Earth International], a third of the land sold or acquired in Africa, some five million hectares is intended for fuel crops."
    • "The report profiles land-grab cases that have happened in 11 African countries, most of which is being used or intended to be used to grow biofuel crops like Jatropha and palm oil."
    • "The report indicated further that concerns about energy supply appear to be a key driver behind the demand for agrofuel crops – with the EU aiming for 10% of transport fuel to come from “renewable” sources by 2010. These EU targets have established a clear market – which given land prices and the lack of available land within the EU will inevitably be met by imports."[3]
  • Updated US Federal Trade Commission Guideline May Nullify 100's of Existing Green Labels, Product Claims, 26 August 2010 by TreeHugger: "The US FTC is close to updating its original 'green guides' which have been the sole legal basis for examining and challenging the validity of various green marketing claims or product 'green marks'."
    • "Many of the early efforts at green labeling utilized life cycle inventory data that were inapplicable to actual countries of product origin..."
    • "Here's a key cite from the Advertising Age article on this:"
      • "Christopher Cole, an advertising-law specialist and partner with law firm Manatt Phelps & Phillips in Washington, said the guides could render most of the more than 300 environmental seals of approval now in currency on packaging and products largely useless and possibly in violation of FTC standards."
    • If "squishy words" like sustainability get pulled in, the entire accountability aspect could be lost. All environmental performance standards are by definition relativistic, and 'my product/company is more sustainable than yours 'is a boring tar pit that sinks all who reach in."[4]
  • Biochar research yields significant results, 12 August 2010 by Biomass Magazine: "Although it will not solve climate change entirely, biochar has the potential to mitigate up to a tenth of current greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study."
    • The study, "Sustainable biochar to mitigate global climate change", which "centered on the carbon sequestration capabilities of biochar was published this week in Nature Communication, and co-author James Amonette hopes it will have great influence on those in the scientific community who doubt biochar’s climate mitigation potential."
    • "Amonette and fellow researchers calculated that when taking into consideration all biomass resources presently available, biochar has the potential to sequester one to two gigatons of carbon per year."
    • "A surprising determination of the resource analysis was that a significant amount of biomass is already spoken for in one way or another, Amonette said. 'There’s not a lot of it just lying around. We were very careful, getting back to the sustainability issues, not to consider breaking natural ground and converting it to biomass plantations because that was absolutely not the right way to go; the carbon debt from doing that is very large.'"[8]
  • In Defense of Biomass, 11 August 2010 by 25 x 25: "Over the past several years, the production of biomass for use as renewable energy has elicited criticism from some on Capitol Hill and from some in the environmental community who have drawn their conclusions from flawed assumptions and misconstrued data."
    • "The latest assault is focused on greenhouse gas emissions from bioenergy and other biogenic sources and more specifically how they should be calculated. Farm and forestry bioenergy feedstock suppliers and their partners along the value-chain are being aggressively challenged about the ways in which they measure and account for the differences between bioenergy pathways and fossil fuel pathways."
    • "In response, the 25x’25 Alliance has created a new work group that will develop recommendations for how greenhouse emissions (GHGs) from biomass energy development should be calculated. The mission of the Work Group is to develop a set of overarching bioenergy accounting principles that policy makers and regulators can use to assess the GHGs from bioenergy and other biogenic sources."
    • "The EPA is currently soliciting information and viewpoints to help the agency address the issue of the carbon neutrality of biogenic energy. The agency has imposed a Sept. 13 deadline for the public comment period, and the Work Group’s first priority is to study the issue of biogenic emissions and provide EPA with information and recommendations."[9]
  • Call to ban corn-based ethanol production, 10 August 2010 by Zhang Ming'ai: "Zhao Youshan, chairman of the Oil Flow Commission of the China General Chamber of Commerce, told the Beijing Times that they have submitted a letter to the NDRC in an attempt to ban corn-based ethanol production, because it has pushed up corn prices at home and turned China into a corn-importing country in the first half of this year from previously a corn-exporting country."
    • "In 2004, in order to promote the development of renewable energy and new energy, the NDRC and the Ministry of Finance jointly put forward a policy, under which testing programs were launched in Heilongjiang to produce ethanol fuel from corn. Factories could get a subsidy of 1,880 yuan and be exempted from all taxes by producing one ton of ethanol fuel."[10]
  • Mozambique to get 19 million dollar biofuels project, 9 August 2010 by AFP: "Mozambique's state fuel company has partnered with the private sector to invest 19 million dollars (14 million euros) in biofuel production, state media reported on Monday."
    • "National supplier Petromoc, Portuguese fuel company Galp and biodiesel producer Ecomoz will produce biodiesel in the northern Manica province from jatropha curcas plantations, Noticias newspaper reported."
    • "A minimum of 10,000 hectares will be cultivated at first, with possible expansion to 50,000 hectares later, the paper reported."[12]
  • The effect of biofuels on food prices has “not been as large as originally thought”, according to a newly-released working paper from the World Bank., 6 August 2010 by James Cartledge: "In fresh analysis on the 2008 boom in global food prices, the paper said much of the problem was caused by the rising price of energy and to a lesser extent by the actions of various commodity investors looking to make a fast buck out of the rising prices."
    • "Between 2003 and 2008, the general price of metals and energy rose by 230%, fertilizers four-fold and food more than double."
    • "With some researchers blaming biofuels for as much as two thirds of the rise in food prices, the World Bank paper said there were “serious doubts about claims that biofuels account for a big shift in global demand”.This was particularly because biofuels account for only 1.5% of world grains consumption, the report suggested."
    • "During the energy boom, more attention was devoted to the possible impact of diverting food crops into biofuel production than the fact that rising energy crops made the cultivation and production of food more expensive."[13]
  • UN incineration plans rejected by world's rubbish-dump workers, 5 August 2010 by The Guardian: "The waste-pickers who scour the world's rubbish dumps and daily recycle thousands of tonnes of metal, paper and plastics are up in arms against the UN, which they claim is forcing them out of work and increasing climate change emissions."
    • "Their complaint, heard yesterday in Bonn where UN global climate change talks have resumed, is that the clean development mechanism (CDM), an ambitious climate finance scheme designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries, has led to dozens of giant waste-to-energy incinerators being built to burn municipal rubbish, as well as hundreds of new landfill schemes designed to collect methane gas."
    • "'Waste-pickers, who are some of the poorest people on earth, recover recyclable materials. They are invisible entrepreneurs on the frontline of climate change, earning a living from recovery and recycling, reducing demand for natural resources,' says Neil Tangri, director of Gaia, an alliance of 500 anti-incinerator groups in 80 countries."
    • "But they are being undermined by CDM projects, which deny them entry to dumps. This is leading to further stress and hardship for some of the poorest people in the world and is increasing emissions,' he said."
    • "Yesterday Gaia called for the CDM to stop approving incinerator waste to energy projects and to start investing climate funds in the informal recycling sector. This, he said, would increase employment and labour conditions while dramatically reducing emissions."[14]
  • Massachusetts Suspends Biofuel Mandate, 3 August by the Hearthland Institute: "The state of Massachusetts has suspended a biofuel mandate which was set to take effect on July 1. State officials found the costs prohibitive and biofuel availability to be minimal."
    • "The mandate, backed by some environmental activists and championed by the renewable energy industry, would have required all diesel and home heating oil sold in the Bay State contain at least 2 percent biofuels. By 2013 that mandate would have increased to 5 percent."
    • "When initially passing the mandate, legislators put off filling in the law’s details until a later time. But they faced too many complications when they tried to work around the unforeseen complications. The mandate was part of the Clean Energy Biofuels Act of 2008, and the legislature has now decided not to implement the law."[15]
  • 46,000 Square Miles Of Forest Needed To Supply 120 Planned US Wood-Fired Power Plants, 3 August 2010 blog post by TreeHugger: Why "are 120 wood burning power plants being planned in multiple US states? Are banks and managing utilities planning for biomass (a euphemism for wood-fired) just to meet state renewable energy goals?"
    • "Mainstream media are 'missing the forest for the trees' on this issue and the underlying reasons may surprise you."
    • An article from, Burning Ohio trees at Burger sets fire to debate reported that:
      • "Nationally, there are 102 biomass plants that generate electricity in 21 states, according to the Biomass Power Association, a national trade group. Biomass accounts for 1.2 percent of America's electricity."
      • "More than 120 wood-burning biomass power plants have been proposed in the past three years. They would require 46,000 square miles of forests -- an area the size of Pennsylvania -- to be cleared by 2025, according to one national eco-group."
    • "Wood fired power plant stack emissions are relatively low in SOX and PM2.5 particulates compared to stack emissions produced by coal. Utilities can meet their emission permit limits by simply switching to wood - without investing in expensive new air pollution equipment."
    • "Environmental regulations promulgated under the US Clean Air Act may be a primary force behind the biomass power movement. Too soon [to] tell whether local opposition to such planned projects will hold many of them back."[16]

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