February 2012

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Bioenergy > Timeline > 2012 > February 2012

This page includes information on News and Events in February 2012.

  • (News and events are archived here after the end of the month.)



  • Ethanol industry lurches in wake of lost subsidy, oversupply, 28 February 2012 by Minnesota Public Radio: "After predicting they would survive the end of a major federal subsidy without problems, it looks like officials at the nation's ethanol producers may have been too optimistic."
    • "Since the subsidy ended Dec. 31, ethanol profit margins have declined sharply, even slipping into negative territory. Experts see no quick turnaround in sight...."
    • "The loss of the 45-cent-per-gallon federal tax break marks a major change in the economics of ethanol. It also created a double whammy beginning with the closing months of last year, when ethanol producers saw a rush of buyers for the last of a subsidized product."[1]
  • Single spark sends 10% of UK's renewable energy capacity up in smoke , 28 February 2012 by ClickGreen: "Fire investigators believe a spark from machinery triggered the huge fire that swept through Europe's biggest biomass power plant yesterday."
    • "Firefighters spent more than 15 hours tackling the fire at the Tilbury power plant on the banks of the River Thames in Essex...."
    • "The fire involved between 4,000 and 6,000 tonnes of wood pellet fuel in storage cells - at least two of the bunkers were destroyed in the fire...."
    • "In early 2011, RWE npower was granted the necessary consents from the Environment Agency and Local Planning Authority to convert all three of the power station’s units to generate power from 100% sustainable biomass...."
    • "The UK has signed up to achieve a legally binding target of 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The Department of Energy and Climate Change estimates as much as half of that may be generated from biomass, which includes municipal waste, wood pellets and straw...."[2]
  • Airbus urges EU to scrap biodiesel incentives for road transport, 16 February 2012 by EurActive: "The EU should bin incentives for road-transport biodiesel or provide equal ones for the production of biokerosene used in airplanes, a senior Airbus executive has told EurActiv."
    • "'We are asking for a level playing field or the scrapping of incentives that cover the biodiesel industry,'said Paul Nash, the Airbus head of environment and new energies."
    • "Biodiesel, which is primarily used in road transport, may eventually be deemed one of the ‘worst performing biofuels’ with leaked EU data putting its emissions on a par with those from tar sands, when ILUC effects are counted."
    • "Last month, the US Environmental Protection Agency also ruled palm oil-based biodiesel inadmissible for its Renewable Fuel Standard Program, because it did not meet the minimum 20% lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions reduction threshold needed to qualify. Such valuations have in turn fuelled complaints about the incentives that road-based biodiesels proportionately receive in Europe, as a result of the EU’s target to power 10% of its transport system with renewable energies by 2020."
    • “'All of the incentives today in Europe are focused on the production of biodiesel and there are no incentives in terms of aviation,' Nash told EurActiv, referring to the increasing competition for biofuels between the two transport sectors."
    • "Industry insiders argue airlines should be given priority access to sustainable biofuels as aviation will continue to rely on liquid fuels for decades. Road transport, by contrast, has already started its transition to electricity, something that airlines simply cannot do." [3]
  • Biomass Supply and Carbon Accounting for Southeastern Forests , 14 February 2012 by National Wildlife Federation: "A new study of southeastern forests in the U.S. finds that in the long run, burning wood instead of fossil fuels to make electricity can reduce heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but not soon enough to prevent worsening the conditions leading to global climate change."
    • "...[T]he southeastern United States has seen recent interest in significantly expanding the biomass energy sector, including building new power plants, co-firing with coal power in existing plants, pellet manufacture for export to Europe, and producing cellulosic ethanol. While some look to these developments and see promise, others look with great concern at pressures on the region’s forests, implications for forest health and sustainable wood supply, and impacts on cumulative greenhouse gas emissions...."
    • "...[T]his study seeks to address two key questions relevant to the biomass electric power sector in this region of the country:
      • "How much biomass (primarily wood) is available on a sustainable basis to source the expanding southeastern biomass electric power sector? And, what is the potential of public policy to create demands that exceed sustainable supply levels?
      • "How will the increased use of forest biomass for electric power generation in the Southeast affect atmospheric carbon over time, and how does biomass energy compare to several fossil fuel energy alternatives in terms of cumulative GHG emissions over time?"[4]
    • Download the report: Biomass Supply and Carbon Accounting for Southeastern Forests (PDF file)
  • Major Milestone for Sustainable Biofuels -- World's first sustainable biofuels certification under new RSB international standards , 10 February 2010 by National Wildlife Federation: "The NCS International announced on Thursday that it has certified the world's first biofuels operation to achieve certification against the Principles and Criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB).
    • "The RSB has developed a third-party certification system for biofuels sustainability standards, encompassing environmental, social and economic principles and criteria through an open, transparent, and multi-stakeholder process. National Wildlife Federation played a key role in establishing this global standard for the voluntary certification of biofuels and hopes the new system will promote good practices on the ground, and eventually help end biofuels production practices that are harmful to the climate and environment."
    • ""Barbara Bramble, Senior Advisor for the International Climate and Energy Program at the National Wildlife Federation, and Chair of the Board of the RSB, said today:
      • "'We are pleased that the Manildra Group has achieved certification, under the RSB's global system of Principles and Criteria, for their wheat flour production operation, Shoalhaven Starches Pty Ltd. This is a significant achievement for the Australian-based project, which makes biofuels out of an otherwise potentially polluting waste stream, so it fulfills several objectives at once."
    • "For more information on the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, visit www.rsb.org."[5]
    • See also the website of RSB Services
  • Website of RSB Services Launched, 10 February 2012, by RSB Services: "The RSB Services Foundation is a US-based non-profit organization to implement the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuelssustainability standard. The RSB Services Foundation works with companies who wish to become certified and third party verifiers (i.e. Certification Bodies) to maintain the tools and internal systems for the RSB certification process...."
    • "If you would like to apply for RSB certification please click here to learn how to begin the application process."[6]
  • Sustainable land use strategies to support bioenergy described in Industrial Biotechnology journal, 9 February 2012 by EurekAlert!: "Applying 21st century tools and technologies to manage land use, maximize biomass production, and increase the efficiency of processes for extracting energy from renewable resources will enable the biofuels industry to overcome current challenges in bioenergy production," according to the article Sustainable Land Use for Bioenergy in the 21st Century, published in Industrial Biotechnology.
    • “[The authors] provide a detailed review of the current methods in use for producing bioenergy and the key hurdles yet to overcome.”
    • “The article… focuses three main areas: enhancing the growth of biomass from a variety of resources; optimizing the thermo-chemical conversion of biomass to energy; and implementing land management strategies to create a sustainable biomass-to-energy industry that does not have an undesirable impact on the environment.”
    • “The authors emphasize the need for innovative methods to increase the energy density of biomass, enhance growth strategies, improve energy yield, and maximize the use of waste generated as a result of biomass processing.” [7]
    • Read the paper, Sustainable Land Use for Bioenergy in the 21st Century.
  • US Report Casts Doubt On Palm Fuel Benefits, 8 February 2012 by Jakarta Globe: "Indonesia has come under greater scrutiny over its policy to encourage palm oil development, following a report by US authorities that fuels derived from the commodity were not as environmentally friendly as initially believed."
    • "Last month, the US Environmental Protection Agency put out a notice that palm oil-derived biofuels such as biodiesel and renewable diesel fell short of its threshold for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings of 20 percent compared to regular diesel...."
    • "[The notice indicated that] 'palm oil production produces wastewater effluent that eventually decomposes, creating methane, a GHG with a high global warming potential'...and that 'expected expansion of palm plantations onto land with carbon-rich peat soils which would lead to significant releases of GHGs to the atmosphere.'"
    • "Meine van Noordwijk, chief science adviser at the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), said if more than 10 percent of palm oil originated from peatland plantations, then the EPA’s standards could not be met, regardless of all other efforts."
    • "In 2009, 22 percent of Indonesia’s palm oil plantations were on peat soil, while in Malaysia the figure was 13 percent, according to the EPA...."
    • "In 2008 the EU banned biofuels from palm oil grown from deforesting tropical forests peatlands."[8]
  • EU energy chief against higher biofuel target for now, 7 February 2012 by AlertNet: "The EU's energy chief said on Tuesday for now he was opposed to raising the bloc's 10 percent biofuel target due to environmental concerns and urged the bloc to agree 2030 energy goals within two years."
    • "On the biofuel target, he told a conference: 'If I had to decide today, I would reject a proposal to go beyond 10 percent (on biofuels). The whole question of sustainability has to be addressed.'"
    • "The European Union has a binding target to raise the share of renewable energy in road transport to 10 percent by the end of the decade, almost all of which is expected to be met by blending biofuels with conventional fuels."
    • "The EU executive is grappling with the question of how to regulate the unintended environmental consequences of biofuel production and has repeatedly delayed legislative proposals due last year on indirect land use change (ILUC)." [9]
  • Biodiesel industry tries to limit damage from fake credits scandal, 6 February 2012 by Platts: "US biodiesel producers fear the recent scandal uncovering phony renewable fuel credits could erode support for the federal energy policy at a crucial time in its implementation."
    • "National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe on Monday urged opponents of the Renewable Fuel Standard to avoid the temptation to use the fake credits as a weapon to bludgeon the mandate, which requires an increasing share of biofuels get blended into the US transportation fuel supply."
    • "Federal investigators and the Environmental Protection Agency's compliance division have flagged two sellers of renewable identification numbers (RINs), codes that should correspond with actual biofuel production to satisfy renewable energy mandates. In November, EPA declared invalid 32.3 million biodiesel credits sold by Clean Green Fuels of Maryland. Last week, the agency tossed out 48.1 million biodiesel credits sold by Absolute Fuels of Texas."[10]
  • Location key to calculating biofuel carbon footprint, 4 February 2012 by SciGuru.com: “The US government has set a target for producing cellulosic ethanol of nearly 40 billion litres each year by 2020. The perennial grass Miscanthus x giganteus is one potential source… But the climate impact of using the grass to make cellulosic ethanol depends on how and where it's grown, processed and transported. With that in mind, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, US, have assessed the optimum conditions for producing the fuel, using six different scenarios.”
    • “The team found that, provided indirect land-use change was successfully minimized or mitigated, the major factors affecting the greenhouse-gas emissions of cellulosic ethanol production were the amount of soil carbon emitted or stored during growth of the grass, and greenhouse-gas offset credits for electricity exported to the grid by biorefineries.”
    • "What also became increasingly clear to us is the importance of location; where the biomass is grown, where the biorefineries are located, and by what mode and how far both the biomass and ethanol product must be transported are all key to assessing the environmental impacts," said Scown. "These are all unknowns for an industry such as cellulosic ethanol production that has yet to develop on a commercial scale."[11]
    • Read the paper, Lifecycle greenhouse gas implications of US national scenarios for cellulosic ethanol production, published in Environmental Research Letters (ERL).
  • IATP paper probes deeper implications of ILUC debate, 2 February 2012 by Ethanol Producer Magazine: "Looking for a middle ground where environmentalists and ethanol advocates could meet, the Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy released a paper by Julia Olmstead reflecting on the lessons learned regarding the debate over indirect land use change (ILUC)."
    • "One of the points made in the six-page paper emerging from those efforts is that although those in support of the ILUC factor have argued higher demand for corn for ethanol production stimulates land conversion, it may be based on a faulty assumption. 'Although the connection between price signals and reduced land conversion isn’t often part of the ILUC conversation, the implicit assumption is that low prices will help stem land conversion,' the paper states. 'High prices stimulate agricultural expansion, but there is evidence that low commodity prices can do the same.'"[12]
    • Download the paper, Learning from the Indirect Land Use Change Debate (PDF file)
  • EU biofuel targets will cost €126 billion without reducing emissions, 2 February 2012 by Friends of the Earth Europe: "Motorists across Europe are set to pay an additional €18 billion a year for petrol and diesel as a result of EU biofuel targets that have been shown not to reduce emissions, says new research published today."
    • "New figures, commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe and ActionAid, show that the planned increase in biofuels use could cost European consumers an extra €94 to €126 billion between now and 2020. This despite evidence that biofuels will actually make climate change worse and increase global hunger...."
    • "Biofuels have been promoted as a ‘green’ alternative to climate-damaging fossil fuels, but studies for the European Commission confirm that that the EU’s projected use of biofuels could actually increase emissions – particularly where countries rely on biodiesel from palm oil, soy and rapeseed...."
    • "In its 2012 reporting, the EU will be under pressure to acknowledge the damaging impacts of its biofuels policies on land rights and food prices globally – with cases already recorded, in countries from Guatemala to Kenya."[13]
    • Download the report, EU wide extrapolation of UK cost of biofuels calculations (PDF file).

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