August 2011

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Bioenergy > Timeline > 2011 > August 2011


This page includes information on News and Events in August 2011.

Events

News

  • Department of Energy Announces up to $12 Million in Investments to Support Development and Production of Drop-In Biofuels, 31 August 2011 by EERE News: "In support of the Obama Administration's comprehensive efforts to strengthen U.S. energy security, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced up to $12 million to fund three small-scale projects in Illinois, Wisconsin, and North Carolina that aim to commercialize novel conversion technologies to accelerate the development of advanced, drop-in biofuels and other valuable bio-based chemicals."
    • "The projects, funded through DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, seek to accelerate research and development that will lead the way toward affordable, clean alternatives to fossil fuels and diversify our nation's energy portfolio."
    • "Thermochemical processes use heat and catalysts to convert biomass, in a controlled industrial environment, into liquid and gaseous intermediates—or substances formed as a necessary stage in manufacturing an end product—which can then be chemically converted into fuels and other products."[1]
  • Biomass energy: Another driver of land acquisitions?, August 2011 by IIED: "Rapid expansion of biomass energy in the global North is fuelling demand for wood and increasing interest in tree plantations in the global South. But if biomass is sourced from food-insecure countries where local land rights are weak, there is a real risk that people could lose the land they depend on for their livelihoods. This briefing discusses the potential social impacts of biomass plantations in developing countries and calls for greater public scrutiny and debate about the issue."[2]
  • Testing the Water for Bioenergy Crops, 31 August 2011 by the U.S. News : "Energy researchers and environmental advocates are excited about the prospect of gaining more efficient large-scale biofuel production by using large grasses like miscanthus or switchgrass rather than corn."
    • "They have investigated yields, land use, economics and more, but one key factor of agriculture has been overlooked: water."
    • "Miscanthus and switchgrass have a very different above-ground foliage structure from corn—more surface area and much denser growth."
    • "This is good for maximizing the amount of biomass that an acre of land can produce, said Praveen Kumar, an environmental engineer and atmospheric scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but it also increases water use."
    • "The result of large-scale adoption would be a reduction in soil moisture and runoff, but an increase in atmospheric humidity."
    • "In the U.S. Midwest, rainfall should remain sufficient to meet water demand, according to Kumar. However, areas that rely on irrigation could find they have less water to meet higher demands, which could increase the net cost of large-scale land conversion and put pressure on already stressed water resources."[3]
  • Oil Palm Residue Could Solve Food vs. Biofuel Debate, 21 August 2011 by Jakarta Globe: "The millions of tons of fibrous residue produced by palm oil plantations across the country could soon become a major source of raw material for renewable fuel."
    • "Over the past year, scientists from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and Seoul’s Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) have been working on a joint project to turn a waste product into a viable alternative energy resource."
    • "By next year, the scientists are optimistic that the pilot plant and research lab built for the project in the Research Center for Science and Technology (Puspiptek) in Serpong, Banten, can start regular production of bioethanol from the leftover parts of the oil palm plant."
    • "Indonesia has already been producing biofuel from jatropha and cassava, but, according to Yanni Sudiyani, the chief researcher for bioethanol and biomass at LIPI , there is a problem with cassava supply, since it is also used for food."
    • "This food-versus-fuel battle has been at the heart of the debate on biofuels, which might otherwise be preferable over non-renewable and heavily polluting fossil fuels."
    • "The oil palm residue has high cellulose content, Zalinar said, which can be processed into liquid glucose that would be fermented to serve as the basic material for bioethanol."[5]
  • Rethinking Life-Cycle Fuel Regulations, 20 August 2011 by Forbes: "In the most recent issue of Climatic Change, one of the resident geniuses that populate the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, Dr. John DeCicco, argues that attempting to regulate fuels using a lifecycle analysis (LCA)-based approach—as is currently done by California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard and the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard—is an exercise in futility for purposes of gaging environmental effectiveness."
    • "Instead, in 'Biofuels and carbon management,' DeCicco proposes a method using annual basis carbon (ABC) accounting to track the stocks and flows of carbon and other relevant greenhouse gases (GHGs) throughout fuel supply chains."
    • "ABC accounting would avoid an automatic credit of biogenic carbon in biofuels, and minimize and accumulation of carbon debt due to indirect land-use change, he says."
    • "Upon reflection, policy is best defined using current-period accounting of carbon stocks and flows, ideally with direct, measurement-based, verifiable tallies of GHG emissions from the production and use of all fuels and feedstocks."[6]
  • ILUC and the Food Versus Fuel Paradox, 11 August 2011 by Biomass Hub: "Indirect land use change (ILUC) is based on the premise that there may be unintended consequence associated with the expansion of croplands for ethanol or biodiesel production in response to increased global demand for biofuels, including the destruction of “virgin” lands and a corresponding release of carbon emissions."
    • "The ILUC backlash is inimical to the global expansion of biofuels as a traded commodity, as was seen in the EU’s most recent debate during a rework of its Renewable Energy Directive."
    • "Managing public perception, and more importantly, expectations, is key to expanding biofuels production worldwide to offset a much more worrisome public policy issue, petroleum dependence."
    • "Like ILUC, the food versus fuel debate exploded on the scene in 2008 as food prices around the world skyrocketed. In truth, the causes are complex and attributed to a web of factors. To attribute increases in food prices to the use of biofuels alone is both misleading and irresponsible."
    • "As we transition into the “Post Oil Age,” the ILUC and food versus fuel debates continue to constrain progress towards more sustainable fuels made from biomass. Although not necessarily a bad thing in all cases, the debate obscures the reality that all biofuels are not created equal."[7]
  • U.S. DOE releases Billion-Ton Study follow-up report, 9 August 2011 by Biomass Power and Thermal: "A follow-up report to the U.S. DOE’s 2005 'Biomass as Feedstock for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry: The Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Annual Supply,' commonly referred to as the Billion-Ton Study, has found consistency with the original in terms of magnitude of resource potential under the same assumptions."
    • "But the follow up, 'U.S. Billion-Ton Update: Biomass Supply for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry,' finds differences in specific feedstock availability and includes a number of elements the Billion-Ton Study did not."
    • "The initial Billion-Ton Study sought to determine whether the land resources in the United States are capable of producing a sustainable supply of biomass to displace 30 percent or more of the country’s petroleum consumption by 2030. The goal would require 1 billion tons annually, the report found, and concluded that the nation could produce 1.3 billion tons per year, about 1 billion from agricultural biomass and 368 million tons from forestlands."
    • "The forest residue potential in the updated report is determined to be somewhat less than in the original, as measured by the unused resources and by properly accounting for pulpwood and sawlog markets that provide the demand and the residue, the report states. The crop residue potential is also determined to be less because of the update’s consideration of soil carbon in crop residue removal, as well as the omission of any residue produced on land that is conventionally tilled."[8]
  • Sugar Cane-to-Jet Fuel Pathway Analyzed for Sustainability, 8 August 2011 by Environment News Service: "Two publicly traded aircraft manufacturers and the Inter-American Development Bank will jointly fund a sustainability analysis of renewable jet fuel sourced from Brazilian sugar cane."
    • "Shouldering the funding with the bank are The Boeing Company and Embraer S.A., the world's largest manufacturer of commercial jets up to 120 seats."
    • "For the first time, the study will evaluate environmental and market conditions associated with the use of renewable jet fuel produced by Amyris Brasil S.A., a majority-owned Brazilian company, a subsidiary of California-based Amyris."
    • "The global conservation organization World Wildlife Fund will serve as an independent reviewer and advisor for the analysis."
    • "Scheduled for completion in early 2012, the study will include a complete life cycle analysis of the emissions associated with Amyris's renewable jet fuel, including indirect land use change and effects."[9]
  • EBB slams EU thinking on biofuel land use impacts, 5 August 2011 by Argus Media: "Europe's biodiesel producers have commissioned an independent review of a policy document on biodiesel's indirect effects on land use change, which the European Biodiesel Board (EBB) maintains has skewed the European Commission's thinking on the subject to the detriment of the European biodiesel industry."
    • The commission has yet to define its methodology for gauging the possibility that diverting additional land to agriculture to feed biofuels demand could be increasing carbon emissions, an issue commonly referred to by the acronym ILUC. But several reports commissioned by the EU, which were subsequently leaked, have suggested incorporating ILUC into carbon calculation methodologies could have a negative impact on biodiesel made from virgin vegetable oils."
    • "In particular, EBB criticises [an] IFPRI report for underestimating the positive impact of increased oilseeds production in increasing animal feed production, containing flawed calculations on the amount of substitution between vegetable oils — which occurs in the EU market — and failing to include improvements in agricultural productivity among its calculations."
    • "EBB has commissioned Dr Don O'Connor of (S&T)² Consultants and Professor Gernot Klepper of the Kiel Institute for World Economy, to perform a critical review of the IFPRI study. The EBB expects to present its findings in September, when the college of commissioners will consider the findings of the commission's ILUC impact assessment. "[10]
  • Report Links Biofuels With Food Prices, 4 August 2011 by The Wall Street Journal: "For years, commentators have blamed Asia’s rapidly-expanding middle class for pushing up the cost of food and creating markets so volatile prices have spiked to record levels two times in four years."
    • "But according to new research for the United Nations’ food body, the increasing diversion of grain and oilseeds to create fuel—particularly in the U.S. and Europe, which spend an estimates $8 billion a year supporting their biofuel industries—has had a far greater effect."
    • "In contrast to mainstream belief, it argues that without biofuels, the rate of feed consumption in everywhere but the Soviet Union (whose livestock industry is still recovering from a collapse under Communism) is actually slowing—despite the jump in demand for meat in Asia."
    • "Because of this, the report finds that 'limiting the use of food to produce biofuel is the first objective to be pursued to curb demand.' Those that are used should be produced 'where it is economically, environmentally and socially feasible to do so, and traded more freely,' it adds."[11]
  • The Extraordinary Collapse of Jatropha as a Global Biofuel, 2 August 2011 by Environmental Science & Technology: "In a massive planting program of unprecedented scale millions of marginal farmers and landless people were encouraged to plant Jatropha across India through attractive schemes....Similar measures were undertaken across other developing countries involving millions of small farmers in the hope that it would not only provide renewable energy but also enhance their incomes....By 2008, Jatropha had already been planted over an estimated 900000 ha globally of which an overwhelming 85% was in Asia, 13% in Africa and the rest in Latin America, and by 2015 Jatropha is expected to be planted on 12.8 million ha worldwide."
    • "But the results are anything but encouraging. In India the provisions of mandatory blending could not be enforced as seed production fell far short of the expectation and a recent study has reported discontinuance by 85% of the Jatropha farmers....In Tanzania the results are very unsatisfactory and a research study found the net present value of a five-year investment in Jatropha plantation was negative with a loss of US$ 65 per ha on lands with yields of 2 tons/ha of seeds...."
    • "...A case study of Jatropha plantations raised in 1993–1994 in the Indian province of Andhra Pradesh had reported actual yields that were far below expectations and the species was found to be prone to termite attacks, water logging, vulnerable to drought in the planting year and delayed yields."
    • "...As an immediate step an international body like the FAO may have to intervene to stop further extension of Jatropha in new areas without adequate research inputs. Greater investments in dissemination of scientific data will help in ensuring due diligence does not cause undue delays in decision making."[12]
  • U.S. Ethanol Industry to Keep Subsidies Until End of 2011, 1 August 2011 by Bloomberg: "U.S. ethanol subsidies aren’t affected by a congressional agreement to lift the country’s debt limit that may be voted on by both chambers today, according to industry groups."
    • "The 45-cent tax credit for each gallon of the biofuel blended into gasoline and the 54-cent tariff on Brazilian imports, due to expire Dec. 31, will stay in place for now, according to the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy, Washington-based industry trade groups."
    • "Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, forged a July 7 deal with Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, and John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, to eliminate the government supports and to include it as part of the deficit- reduction package. The agreement proposed to reduce federal deficit by $1.33 billion and to dedicate $668 million to biofuels and new technologies."
    • "The U.S. is required to use 12.6 billion gallons of ethanol this year and 15 billion gallons by 2015 under an energy law signed in 2007, known as the Renewable Fuels Standard."[13]




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