July 2011

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Bioenergy > Timeline > 2011 > July 2011


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

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

Events

News

  • Biofuels Mandates Around the World, 21 July 2011 by Biofuels Digest: "In Florida, the Digest today releases its annual review of biofuels mandates and targets around the world, looking at the state of biofuels mandates in 52 countries around the world."
    • "The bulk of mandates comes from the EU-27, where the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) specifies a 10 percent renewables content by 2020 across the entire membership – though 7 percent of that will come from biofuels, the balance from the electrification of the fleet. The other 21 countries are primarily in Asia."
    • "Besides the EU, the major blending mandates that will drive global demand are those set in the US, China and Brazil – each of which has set targets – or, in the case of Brazil, is already there – at levels in the 15-20 percent range by 2020-2022."
    • "The major biofuels mandates – with some estimates of 2020 consumption, translate into the major drivers of the 60 billion gallons of global biofuels demand that are widely discussed, without addressing the demand for aviation, or the mandates in place in countries such as Canada, Australia, or throughout Southeast Asia."[1]
  • US Air Force: We want to use biofuels, 19 July 2011 by AFP: "The US Air Force is ready to switch to biofuels to help power its warplanes but the price of alternative fuels remains too high, military officials said Tuesday."
    • "Anxious to reduce its reliance on oil, the Air Force has approved the use of synthetic fuels for nearly all its aircraft and expects to get the green light for biofuels by the end of 2012, Undersecretary Erin Conaton said."
    • "'But in order to do that, we need industry to be able to produce in the quantities we need at a cost-competitive price.'"
    • "Biofuels cost a prohibitive $35 a gallon, about 10 times the price of conventional jet fuel, or JP-8."
    • "US officials see the country's dependence on foreign oil as a national security risk and an increasing financial burden."
    • "To promote energy 'security,' the Air Force has set a goal to have half of its domestic fuel needs drawn from alternative sources by 2016."
    • "Following the Air Force's lead, the Navy and Army are also working to promote the use of alternative fuels in ships, ground vehicles and bases, with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus arguing that the military can help generate enough demand to lower the price of biofuels."[2]
  • EU gets tough on dirty biofuel, pledges more action, 19 July 2011 by Reuters: "Europe's energy chief announced seven green certification schemes for biofuels on Tuesday and promised in future to tackle the unwanted side-effects of turning food into fuel."
    • "Guenther Oettinger said biofuels' indirect impacts were dangerous for the planet's carbon balance and food supply."
    • "The European Union agreed three years ago to get 10 percent of its road fuels from biofuels -- at a time when such fuels were widely regarded as good for the environment -- but since then controversy has raged in Europe over the target."
    • "Oettinger took a first step toward limiting biofuels' impact on the environment on Tuesday, launching a green standard to prevent companies from clearing forest, peatlands or grassland to grow biofuels for the European market."
    • "Critics say the EU's biofuel target creates an incentive for farmers to hack directly into forests to create space to grow fuel crops -- known as direct land use change."
    • "But they also charge that even biofuel crops planted in Europe can send shock waves through global food markets and indirectly promote deforestation -- indirect land use change."
    • "Recent research shows that when more food is needed, the majority of new farmland, possibly as much as 80 percent, comes from burning down forests."[3]
  • First EU sustainability schemes for biofuels get the go-ahead, 19 July 2011 press release by the European Commission: "In order to receive government support or count towards mandatory national renewable energy targets, biofuels used in the EU, whether locally produced or imported, have to comply with sustainability criteria. These criteria aim at preventing the conversion of areas of high biodiversity and high carbon stock for the production of raw materials for biofuels. In practice this means that biofuels made of crops that have been grown on land that used to be rainforest or natural grassland with a unique ecosystem cannot be considered as sustainable. In addition, the greenhouse gas emissions over the whole production chain need to be at least 35% lower compared to fossil fuels. That threshold will increase over time."
    • "Companies can choose whether to demonstrate compliance with these sustainability requirements through national systems or by joining a voluntary scheme which is recognised by the Commission."
    • "After a detailed assessment made by the Commission and various improvements the following schemes were recognised:
      • ISCC (German (government financed) scheme covering all types of biofuels)
      • Bonsucro EU (Roundtable initiative for sugarcane based biofuels, focus on Brazil)
      • RTRS EU RED (Roundtable initiative for soy based biofuels, focus on Argentina and Brazil)
      • RSB EU RED (Roundtable initiative covering all types of biofuels)
      • 2BSvs (French industry scheme covering all types of biofuels)
      • RSBA (Industry scheme for Abengoa covering their supply chain)
      • Greenergy (Industry scheme for Greenergy covering sugar cane ethanol from Brazil)
    • "The Commission is currently discussing with other voluntary schemes how these can also improve their standard in order to meet the sustainability requirements for biofuels."[4]
  • Analysis: EU cushions biodiesel from damning carbon research, 15 July 2011 by Reuters: "The EU will protect existing investment in its $13 billion biodiesel sector even as it acts on new evidence that suggests making the fuel from food crops can do more harm than good in fighting climate change."
    • "The reports said using Asian palm oil, South American soybeans and EU rapeseed to make biodiesel has a bigger overall impact than conventional diesel on climate change, partly due to forests or wetlands being destroyed to grow replacement food."
    • "European Union policymakers are preparing a political compromise that will safeguard existing biodiesel investments, having baulked at penalizing individual biofuel crops."
    • "With biodiesel representing about 80 percent of Europe's estimated $17 billion market for biofuels and the bloc dependent on diesel imports to meet rising demand, the officials agreed to delay any action that could kill off the biodiesel sector."
    • "The dilemma facing EU policymakers concerns a relatively new concept known as indirect land-use change (ILUC), which challenges the notion that biofuels only emit as much carbon when burned as they absorbed during growth."[5]
  • Not everyone cheering Lufthansa biofuel test, 15 July 2011 by The Local: "Lufthansa is testing biosynthetic fuels on Airbus A321 flights between Hamburg and Frankfurt and, if the trial is successful, hopes to expand use of the fuel across its fleet."
    • "The airline aims to reduce carbon dioxide (C02) emissions fleet-wide, although some environmentalists are skeptical."
    • "'The use of biofuel in the aviation sector to reduce CO2 emissions is an ecological sham,' said Werner Reh, of Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND)."
    • "In a statement, Reh complained that plans such as Lufthansa’s will just result in the mass expansion of crop cultivation necessary to create the biofuel mixture, leading to 'worldwide destruction of forests, loss of biodiversity and competition for food.'"
    • "The airline estimates it will save 1,500 tons of C02 during its tests which will cost €6.5 million ($9.1 million), about a third of which is being funded by the German government."[6]
  • Fuel - Crude thoughts, 14 July 2011 by Airlines International: "Challenges in the jet fuel supply chain are intensifying, making investment in biofuels essential."
    • "The airline industry fuel bill rose more than 11% to $139 billion in 2010, equivalent to 26% of operating expenses."
    • "By the end of March 2011, driven largely by unrest in the Middle East, prices had risen even further, reaching $130 a barrel, which corresponds to around 33% of operating costs."
    • "Government support is needed to redress the situation. Fiscal and legal incentives will be essential to kickstart the biofuels commercialization process. Most forecasts agree that the economics of biofuel will change; oil prices will increase even as biofuel production costs come down. The challenge is to bring about that change sooner rather than later to stabilize price shocks."[7]
  • Cargill Sets Sights on Worldwide Sustainable Palm Oil by 2020, 13 July 2011 by GreenBiz.com: "Agribusiness giant Cargill plans to only offer palm oil -- an ingredient in Girl Scout cookies and numerous other foods -- that is certified sustainable in select countries by 2015 and worldwide by 2020."
    • "Cargill aims to have all of the palm oil it sells in Europe, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand be certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) within the next four years."
    • "Cargill then plans for all palm oil sold in China, India and elsewhere to be RSPO-certified by 2020."
    • "The first goal, however, excludes palm kernel oil, which is produced from the same oil palm trees that palm oil comes from and is used in food products, soaps and other goods."
    • "The Rainforest Action Network, which has been dogging Cargill about its palm oil use, says that while the goals are a good start, the deadlines are too far away, RSPO certification is weak and palm kernel oil shouldn't be left out."
    • "Cargill says, though, that it's trying to be realistic with its goals, and is aiming for achievable targets."[8]
  • Switch from Corn to Grass Would Raise Ethanol Output, Cut Emissions, 12 July 2011 by ScienceDaily: "Growing perennial grasses on the least productive farmland now used for corn ethanol production in the U.S. would result in higher overall corn yields, more ethanol output per acre and better groundwater quality, researchers report in a new study."
    • "The study used a computer model of plant growth and soil chemistry to compare the ecological effects of growing corn (Zea mays L.); miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus), a sterile hybrid grass used in bioenergy production in Western Europe; and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), which is native to the U.S."
    • "The analysis found that switching 30 percent of the least productive corn acres to miscanthus offered the most ecological advantages."
    • "'If cellulosic feedstocks (such as miscanthus) were planted on cropland that is currently used for ethanol production in the U.S., we could achieve more ethanol (plus 82 percent) and grain for food (plus 4 percent), while reducing nitrogen leaching (minus 15 to 22 percent) and greenhouse gas emissions (minus 29 percent to 473 percent),' the researchers wrote in their report, published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment."
    • "Several hurdles remain before the transition from corn to cellulosic ethanol production can occur on a commercial scale, the researchers said. Converting the sugars in corn to ethanol is easier than releasing the energy locked in plant stems and leaves."[9]
  • Commercial airlines get OK to use biofuels, 11 July 2011 by SFGate: "After decades of waiting, commercial airlines have been given the go-ahead to use fuel made from algae, wood chips and other plants with obscure names."
    • "On July 1, ASTM International, an American organization that sets worldwide technical standards for airlines and other industries, gave approval for carriers to mix fuel made from organic waste and nonfood plants with kerosene, which is conventionally used to power planes."
    • "Aviation accounts for about 2 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide, according to the International Air Transport Association. In 2012, carriers with European routes will have to participate in the European Union's cap-and-trade system for CO{-2} and will have to buy additional permits if they exceed limits set by the European Commission."
    • "The trick for airlines, plane makers and fuel suppliers will be figuring out which brew works best and producing it in large enough quantities so that costs begin to fall."[10]
  • Climate impact threatens biodiesel future in EU, 8 July 2011 by Reuters: "Europe's world-leading $13 billion biodiesel industry, which has boomed in the wake of a decision by Brussels policymakers in 2003 to promote it, is now on the verge of being legislated out of existence after the studies revealed biodiesel's indirect impact cancels out most of its benefits."
    • "The EU has been arguing for two years over the extent of indirect damage to the environment caused by it setting a target of increasing biofuel use to 10 percent of all road fuels by 2020, from less than three percent today."
    • "Its own analysis shows the target may lead to an indirect one-off release of around 1,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide -- more than twice the annual emissions of Germany."
    • "Biofuels were once seen as a silver bullet for curbing transport emissions, based on a theory that they only emit as much carbon as they absorbed during growth."
    • "But that has been undermined by a new concept known as 'indirect land-use change' (ILUC), which scientists are still struggling to accurately quantify."
    • "'The experts unanimously agreed that, even when uncertainties are high, there is strong evidence that the ILUC effect is significant,' said the report from the Commission's November workshop."
    • "Biodiesel from Asian palm oil, South American soy beans, and EU rapeseed all had a bigger overall climate impact than conventional diesel, said a fourth leaked document."
    • "'Ethanol feedstocks have a lower land use change effect than the biodiesel feedstocks. For ethanol, sugar beet has the lowest land use emission coefficients,' said [an] IFPRI report."
    • "The Commission's impact analysis predicts EU demand for biodiesel will collapse if their indirect impacts are taken into account in EU legislation. But at the same time it sees a sharp rise in demand for bioethanol from cereal crops and sugarcane, as well as advanced biodiesel produced from algae."[11]
  • Lufthansa to become first airline to run regular biofuel flights, 8 July 2011 by The Guardian: "Lufthansa will next Friday become the first airline to run regular commercial flights powered partially with biofuel."
    • "Airlines have flown many demonstration biofuel flights, but Lufthansa's LH013 11:15am Hamburg to Frankfurt flight will start the first passenger service to run on a blend of biofuel and conventional fuel."
    • "The company will use the novel fuel mix for six months on eight of its 28 daily 50-minute flights between the two German cities – a distance of 244 miles each way. The German airline says the 1,200 flights will save 1,500 tonnes of CO2."
    • "Biofuels could help airlines reduce carbon emissions. However critics say that biofuels take up land for growing food and raise prices. Worse, if they promote deforestation, they can actually raise emissions."
    • "One engine of the 200-seater Airbus A321 will be fed with a 50-50 mix of biofuel and conventional kerosene-based fuel, the other engine will run on kerosene alone. That will allow Lufthansa to compare the engines' performances under exactly the same conditions. It was not necessary to modify either engine."[12]
  • Senators Reach Deal on Ethanol Subsidy Repeal, Urge Swift Congressional Action for Maximum Benefit, 7 July 2011 by The New York Times: "Bipartisan Senate negotiators today reached a deal to save $1.3 billion through an early repeal of two major ethanol tax benefits, setting what could prove a precedent for more energy-sector tax changes as part of a sprawling deal to raise the nation's debt limit."
    • "The agreement released by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) would end the ethanol blenders' tax credit and the tariff on imported biofuels this month, routing most of the proceeds to deficit reduction while extending tax breaks for infrastructure as well as cellulosic and smaller producers."
    • "But without a House-side buy-in to the deal, its prospects of becoming law -- either as part of a larger measure to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling or as a stand-alone bill -- are slim."
    • "Klobuchar said today that she saw the ethanol accord as a template for a similar tax-benefit compromise with oil and gas companies."
    • "Ethanol interest groups largely hailed the terms of the Senate agreement, which would extend the tax credit for cellulosic production through 2015 with an expansion for algae-based fuels, extend tax incentives for infrastructure through 2014 and extend benefits for smaller ethanol producers through 2012."[13]
  • U.S. Backs Project to Produce Fuel From Corn Waste, 6 July 2011 by The New York Times: "The Energy Department plans to provide a $105 million loan guarantee for the expansion of an ethanol factory in Emmetsburg, Iowa, that intends to make motor fuel from corncobs, leaves and husks."
    • "Experts say that the new factory, being built by POET, a major producer of ethanol derived from corn kernels, could be the first commercial-scale plant to make ethanol from a nonfood, or cellulosic, plant source."
    • "Commercial production of ethanol from waste products like husks is the holy grail of the ethanol industry, and other companies have stumbled in their quest to achieve that goal."
    • "If celluosic ethanol could be produced in an economical fashion, it would vastly increase the American potential to make motor vehicle fuel and reduce use of fossil fuels. It could reduce the use of corn in the manufacture of ethanol as a motor fuel, which is criticized for reducing food supplies for people and animals."[14]
  • Advertising watchdog calls time on sustainable palm oil adverts, 6 July 2011 by businessGreen: "The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) has once again been ordered to change or remove adverts promoting palm oil as 'sustainable', as the sector steps up its efforts to convince EU policy makers to allow palm oil-based biofuels."
    • "MPOC, which represents the Malaysian palm oil industry, is keen to highlight its efforts to reduce the industry's environmental impact as part of a campaign to convince the EU to include fuels made from palm oil in its sustainable biofuel certification scheme."
    • "The case, determined last week, upheld FoE Europe's complaint that MPOC had breached 'les règles de l'éthique publicitaire' in an advert on the EurActiv web site earlier this year."
    • "Defining 'sustainability' by three dimensions - social, environmental and economic - the jury concluded that there was not enough evidence to show that palm oil met all three aspects."[15]
  • Seaweed could have important biofuel role, say scientists, 6 July 2011 by WalesOnline.co.uk: "Researchers at Aberystwyth University say kelp seaweed could provide an important alternative to land-based biofuels, but the suitability of its chemical composition varies with the seasons."
    • "They say harvesting the kelp in July, when carbohydrate levels are at their highest, would ensure optimal sugar release for the production of biofuel."
    • "Kelp can be converted to biofuels through fermentation or anaerobic digestion – to produce ethanol and methane – or pyrolysis, to produce bio-oil through a method of heating the fuel without oxygen. But the chemical composition of the seaweed is important for these processes to be effective."
    • "Land-based plants have been the focus of most biofuel research. But biofuels have a disadvantage as they create conflict between using land to grow either food or fuel. Marine ecosystems are considered an untapped resource that could address this conflict, and provide for over half of global biomass energy."[16]
  • Time to Substitute Wood Bioenergy for Nuclear Power in Japan, 6 July 2011 by Nophea Sasaki et al in the journal Energies.
    • Abstract: "Damage to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant by the recent earthquake and tsunami that hit northern Japan should stimulate consideration of alternative sources of energy. In particular, if managed appropriately, the 25.1 million ha of Japanese forests could be an important source of wood biomass for bioenergy production. Here, we discuss policy incentives for substituting wood bioenergy for nuclear power, thereby creating a safer society while better managing the forest resources in Japan."[17]
  • Biofuel deal sparks land debate in Sierra Leone, 2 July 2011 by AFP: "Hailed as the biggest ever investment in Sierra Leone's agriculture, a plan to grow thousands of hectares of sugarcane to produce ethanol has raised fears over food security and land rights."
    • "Swiss group Addax & Oryx announced on June 17 that it had signed a 258 million euro ($368 million) deal with seven European and African development banks to finance the bioenergy project near Makeni in the north of the country."
    • "Sierra Leone's agriculture ministry says the company has leased 57,000 hectares (141,000 acres) of land for a period of 50 years, an area roughly the size of the US city of Chicago."
    • "Most of the ethanol -- which can be blended with gasoline and diesel to reduce dependence on harmful fossil fuels -- will be exported to European markets."
    • "Addax, which plans to develop a plantation of 10,000 hectares of sugarcane, says large areas of land are available for communities to use as the project uses up less than a third of the total land leased."[18]
  • Biofuels land grab in Kenya's Tana Delta fuels talk of war, 2 July 2011 by The Guardian: "[E]viction of the [Gamba Manyatta] villagers to make way for a sugar cane plantation is part of a wider land grab going on in Kenya's Tana Delta that is not only pushing people off plots they have farmed for generations, stealing their water resources and raising tribal tensions that many fear will escalate into war, but also destroying a unique wetland habitat that is home to hundreds of rare and spectacular birds."
    • "The irony is that most of the land is being taken for allegedly environmental reasons – to allow private companies to grow water-thirsty sugar cane and jatropha for the biofuels so much in demand in the west, where green legislation, designed to ease carbon dioxide emissions, is requiring they are mixed with petrol and diesel."
    • "The delta, one of Kenya's last wildernesses and one of the most important bird habitats in Africa, is the flood plain of the Tana river, which flows 1,014km from Mount Kenya to the Indian Ocean."
    • "The delta's people are trying to fight their own government over the huge blocks of land being turned over to companies including the Canadian company, Bedford Biofuels, which was this year granted a licence by the Kenyan environmental regulator for a 10,000-hectare jatropha 'pilot' project. A UK-based firm, G4 Industries Ltd, has been awarded a licence for 28,000 hectares."[19]
  • Back on track: Why BCAP is worth saving, 1 July 2011 by Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy: "Since the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) was rolled out in 2009, there has been an awful lot that’s gone wrong. But in the last few months, a lot has gone right: conservation plans under the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) are now required, and new funding will now be only awarded to support crop establishment."
    • "BCAP was created in the 2008 Farm Bill to help farmers produce sustainably grown cellulose crops for cleaner biofuels, power, heat and biomaterials."
    • "The USDA Farm Service Agency blundered early on when they hastily kicked off an ill-advised matching payment element for existing biomass delivered to energy facilities. The payments were not targeted to new crops at all, but instead disrupted well-established markets for forestry residues, distorting prices and supplies."
    • "In what was widely interpreted as a warning, Congress cut BCAP’s funding for 2011 by $134 million, and barely dodged an amendment to outright kill the program."
    • "Fortunately, USDA stopped approving energy facilities for BCAP payments this spring, choosing to focus instead on crop establishment."[20]



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