March 2010

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Bioenergy > Timeline > 2010 > March 2010


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

Events

News

The March 2010 report by the National Wildlife Federation, Growing a Green Energy Future, examines issues related to the sustainability of biomass utilization in the United States.
  • UN ‘exaggerated’ meat impact on climate change, 25 March 2010 by Farmer's Guardian: "A leading scientist has accused the UN of exaggerating the impact of meat and dairy production on climate change."
    • "A 2006 UN report published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation claimed meat production was responsible for 18 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions....The report, titled 'Livestock’s Long Shadow', added agriculture had a greater impact on global warming than transport."
    • "But Professor Frank Mitloehner, an air quality specialist from the University of California at Davis (UCD), said agriculture’s impact had been exaggerated....He said the UN figures totted up emissions from farm to table – including the impact of growing the feed, from livestock and from processing....However, transport emissions only considered emissions from fossil fuels burned while driving."
    • "He said leading authorities in the US agreed raising cattle and pigs for food accounted for about 3 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, while transportation created an estimated 26 percent."[3]
  • Malaysia to switch to biofuel next year, 24 March 2010 by AFP: "Malaysia, the world's second-largest palm oil producer, will make it mandatory for all vehicles to use biofuel from next year, the government announced Wednesday. Malaysia's plans to shift to biofuel -- a mixture of diesel with five percent processed palm oil -- have been delayed over the past few years due to price fluctuations."
    • "The government has said the switch to biofuel will help reduce the cost of fuel in Malaysia, where petrol is subsidised, but conservationists have criticised oil palm plantations for destroying wildlife habitats."
    • "[Commodities Minister Bernard Dompok] said Malaysia -- which aims to be the global leader in biodiesel -- has approved 56 licences for biodiesel production, which account for a production capacity of 6.8 million tonnes."[4]
  • UK looks to produce 70bn litres of biofuel a year from pondlife, 19 March 2010 by ClickGreen staff: "The "dream team" of eleven leading UK institutions was unveiled who will work together with the Carbon Trust to find a winning formula for cultivating 70 billion litres of algae biofuel a year by 2030."
    • "Algae has the potential to deliver 5 to 10 times more oil per hectare than conventional cropland biofuels and new Carbon Trust lifecycle analysis indicates that, over time, it could provide carbon savings of up to 80% compared to fossil fuel petrol and jet fuel."
    • "Production of 70 billion litres will require man-made algae ponds equivalent to a landmass larger than Wales to be built in optimum locations across the world." [5]
  • Biodiesel lobby: EU understates emissions from oil, 18 March 2010 by Reuters: "[B]iodiesel producers argue the EU's reference values for emissions from diesel and petrol are set too low. That's because they fail to take account of the rising use of unconventional fossil fuels such as Canadian tar sands and extra heavy oil."
    • "Emissions from unconventional oil are up to two-and-a-half times higher than ordinary crude, the [European Biodiesel Board] said, as more energy is used to extract it."
    • "Under the EU's renewable energy directive, biofuels must deliver emissions savings of at least 35 percent compared to fossil-based fuels to count toward the bloc's target of sourcing 10 percent of road transport fuels from renewables in 2020."
    • On the other hand environmental group activists like "Adrian Bebb, biofuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth [argue that], 'All the evidence suggests that Europe's demand for biofuels is causing untold deforestation, increased food prices, land conflicts and greenhouse gas emissions.'"[6]
  • Solazyme’s amazing algae, 18 March 2010 blog post by Marc Gunther: "Algae are so good at producing oil from sunlight and carbon dioxide that there are, by some accounts, as many as 200 companies trying to make biofuels from algae."
    • "Solazyme, a private company based in South San Francisco, stands out from the algae crowd, for a number of reasons....First, there’s the sheer variety of its products."
    • "Solazyme, unlike other startups, is 'producing large volumes of oils and fuels, and we have been for a while,' says its CEO, Jonathan Wolfson."
    • "Wolfson says:
      • 'Pretty much everyone in the space disagrees, but the conclusion that we drew is is that…algae is by far the best thing on the planet at making oil but it’s far less economically efficient at capturing photons than higher plants.
      • 'We take algae, we put them in a tank, we feed them biomass, they make oil and we take the oil out. There’s a lot of technology in the process, but that’s basically what’s happening.'"
    • "Keep in mind that algae’s a risky, crowded business. Sapphire Energy, a prominent competitor, got a $50 million DOE grant and a $54 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in January to expand its commercial-scale pond operation in New Mexico. Meanwhile, GreenFuel, another algae startup which raised venture money and signed a commercial production deal, shut down last year."[7]
  • 'Black Carbon' Crackdown Offers Fast-Action Solution to Slow Warming, 17 March 2010 blog post by Stacy Feldman: "Lawmakers, scientists and advocates in the U.S. intensified calls Tuesday to immediately cut emissions from climate-warming soot — also known as black carbon — as deadlock continues in Congress over far more complicated regulation of carbon dioxide."
    • "Black carbon causes up to 600 times the warming of CO2 and lasts just a few weeks in the atmosphere, whereas CO2 lingers for a century or more. Because of black carbon's short lifespan, the impact of efforts to knock out the potent, heat-absorbing particle would be near immediate."
    • "The U.S. contributes 5.5 percent to that global total, estimates say, mainly from diesel engines. Advocates argue the nation could easily shrink that number down to almost nothing, starting now. The filters to trap up to 90 percent of diesel pollution, for instance, are ready to go."[8]
  • The Case Against Biofuels: Probing Ethanol’s Hidden Costs, 11 March 2010 opinion piece by C. Ford Runge in Yale environment360: "Despite strong evidence that growing food crops to produce ethanol is harmful to the environment and the world’s poor, the Obama administration is backing subsidies and programs that will ensure that half of the U.S.’s corn crop will soon go to biofuel production. It’s time to recognize that biofuels are anything but green."
    • President Obama "and his administration have wholeheartedly embraced corn ethanol and the tangle of government subsidies, price supports, and tariffs that underpin the entire dubious enterprise of using corn to power our cars. In early February, the president threw his weight behind new and existing initiatives to boost ethanol production from both food and nonfood sources, including supporting Congressional mandates that would triple biofuel production to 36 billion gallons by 2022."
    • "Yet a close look at their impact on food security and the environment — with profound effects on water, the eutrophication of our coastal zones from fertilizers, land use, and greenhouse gas emissions — suggests that the biofuel bandwagon is anything but green."
    • Due to fertilizer usage, "loadings of nitrogen and phosphorus into the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico encourage algae growth, starving water bodies of oxygen needed by aquatic life and enlarging the hypoxic 'dead zone' in the gulf."[9]
  • NGOs take European Commission to court over biofuels reports , 9 March 2010 by Euractiv: "Four environmental groups have sued the European Union's executive for withholding documents they say will add to a growing dossier of evidence that biofuels harm the environment and push up food prices."
    • "In December 2008, EU leaders reached agreement on a new Renewable Energy Directive, which requires each member state to satisfy 10% of its transport fuel needs from renewable sources, including biofuels, hydrogen and green electricity, by 2020."
    • "However, concerns have been raised that increased biofuel production would result in massive deforestation and have severe implications for food security, as energy crops replace other land uses (so-called 'indirect land-use change').
    • "The lawsuit, lodged with the EU's General Court, the bloc's second highest court, alleges several violations of European laws on transparency and democracy."[11]
  • World’s Pall of Black Carbon Can Be Eased With New Stoves, 8 March 2010 by Jon R. Luoma for Yale Environment 360: "Two billion people worldwide do their cooking on open fires, producing sooty pollution that shortens millions of lives and exacerbates global warming. If widely adopted, a new generation of inexpensive, durable cook stoves could go a long way toward alleviating this problem."
    • Although the solution is simple, "[r]esearchers have found that it can be difficult to convince people to switch from traditional cooking methods to more advanced stoves, for a variety of reasons that range from uneasiness with unfamiliar or finicky technology, to upfront costs."
    • "Some scientists now estimate that small, solid particles of black carbon are responsible for about one-fifth of warming globally and, as such, are the second-largest contributor to climate change, after carbon dioxide gas."[13]
  • Haiti's Rebuild May Be Biochar's Big Breakthough, 4 March 2010 by TreeHugger: "Biochar, the 'co product' of burning wood or agricultural waste in a pyrolitic (oxygen free) environment, has garnered both praise and criticism for its possibilities as a CO2 sequestration tool."
    • "WorldStoves, a company that makes a number of pyrolitic stoves, has partnered with the NGO International Lifeline Fund and a private Haitian company to bring its 'Lucia' stove designs to Haiti. In Haiti, the use of wood for charcoal for home cooking needs is widespread, which has led to a continuing cycle of deforestation and soil [degradation]."
    • "What makes the Lucia stove so magic is that a Haitian woman or man could cook for a five-person family using just about 300 grams of twigs, groundnut shells, rice husk or dung."
    • "[If] biochar is included in the UN's Certified Emission Reductions (CER) and Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) schemes, creating it in cookstoves and sequestering it in soil could help Haiti economically as well."[14]



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