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Biofuels/Biodiesel

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No end in sight for the biofuel wars. Biofuels are unsustainable in every way, but still demand – and get – preferential treatment Guest post by Paul Driessen, The Big Oil-Big Biofuel wars rage on. From my perch, ethanol, biodiesel and “advanced biofuels” make about zero energy, economic or environmental sense. They make little political sense either, until you recognize that politics is largely driven by crony-capitalism, campaign contributions and vote hustling. Even now, once again, as you read this, White House, EPA, Energy, Agriculture and corporate factions are battling it out, trying to get President Trump to sign off on their preferred “compromise” – over how much ethanol must be blended into gasoline, how many small refiners should be exempted, et cetera. But, we were told, these fuels are renewable, sustainable, a way to prevent “dangerous climate change.” It’s all bunk. But once these biofuel programs were launched, they became permanent.

However, biofuel has been blended into the fuel small refiners make anyway. No end in sight for the biofuel wars. The Big Oil-Big Biofuel wars rage on. From my perch, ethanol, biodiesel and “advanced biofuels” make about zero energy, economic or environmental sense. They make little political sense either, until you recognize that politics is largely driven by crony-capitalism, campaign contributions and vote hustling. Even now, once again, as you read this, White House, EPA, Energy, Agriculture and corporate factions are battling it out, trying to get President Trump to sign off on their preferred “compromise” – over how much ethanol must be blended into gasoline, how many small refiners should be exempted, et cetera. This all got started in the 1970s, when publicly spirited citizens persuaded Congress that “growing our own energy” would safeguard the USA against oil embargoes and price gouging by OPEC and other unfriendly nations, especially as our own petroleum reserves rapidly dwindled into oblivion.

It’s all bunk. Yet once these biofuel programs were launched, they became permanent.

Environmental Impacts of Biofuels

Response To Dorothy Thompson | NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT. By Paul Homewood The Telegraph have printed this letter today in response to Christopher Booker’s piece last Sunday om renewable energy: It contains a number of misleading statements: 1) Far from producing more CO2 emissions, as Mr Booker claims, we actually make carbon savings of more than 80 per cent. This calculation ignores the CO2 emitted from burning coal, on the basis that it will be reabsorbed by replacement forestry. Even if this is the case, it would take many decades to take effect, thus making it worthless as a means of combatting climate change in coming years.

The Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI), a US environmental group, published a damning assessment last year on the impact on US forests of logging for biomass. Like this: New Study Finds Renewable Fuels Are Dirtier Than Fossil Fuels! Today we look at two new papers that reveal renewable energies don’t deliver what their proponents like to have us believe they do, i.e. clean, affordable and reliable energy, and another telling us that the Paris Agreement is a joke. Biofuel blends are more polluting The first paper by Emery et al., 2017, looks at biofuel and found: Life-cycle non-GHG air pollutant emissions, particularly NOX [nitrous oxides] and PM [particulates], are higher for corn ethanol and other biofuel blends than conventional petroleum fuels.” In Germany many people are apprehensive about putting fuels blended with ethanol or biodiesel into their tanks because it is long known that these fuels are more aggressive with the vehicles’ fuel burning systems.

I never put the stuff in my car. Renewables cannot compete Another paper shows that renewable energies are non-competitive on yet another front. The paper writes: Paris Agreement is a “toothless deal” …the deal is worthless words’ (Wente, 2015). EPA pushes forward with biofuels | Watts Up With That? Guest essay by Eric Worrall Biofeul life cycle Image: LLBL.gov US investment in biofuels are to be expanded under proposals advanced by the US EPA. Under the proposed rule announced Friday, the amount of ethanol in the gasoline supply would increase in coming years, just not as much as set out under federal law. That approach drew criticism from ethanol and farm groups that have pushed to keep high volumes of ethanol in gasoline.Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has called for a robust renewable fuels standard while campaigning in Iowa, host of the leadoff presidential caucuses next year.

…In a bid to ethanol producers, the administration also announced Friday that the Agriculture Department will invest up to $100 million to help improve infrastructure for delivering ethanol to cars, such as fuel pumps capable of supplying higher blends of renewable fuel. Read more: Like this: Unintended Consequences of U.S. Biofuel Subsides. Paper Reviewed Allaire, M. and Brown, S.P.A. 2015. The green paradox of U.S. biofuel subsidies: Impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy 4: 83-102. The increasing displacement of fossil fuels in the U.S. marketplace by biofuels has long been a goal of environmental activists who are concerned about potential climate-related impacts of fossil fuel consumption, as well as an over dependence of the country on foreign oil. Success of such activism is noted in the fact that federal government subsidies for biofuels have ratcheted up in recent years, from $1.7 billion in 2005 to over $6.6 billion in 2010.

In addition, the federal government has established a biofuel policy (set by the Renewable Fuel Standard) mandating a four-fold increase in production, from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Aboveground net primary production (ANPP), measured in g/m2), shown in relation to site-level atmospheric N deposition. Local Biofuel Production for Rural Electrification. Paper Reviewed Hoffmann, H., Uckert, G., Reif, C., Graef, F. and Sieber, S. 2015. Local biofuel production for rural electrification potentially promotes development but threatens food security in Laela, Western Tanzania. Regional Environmental Change 15: 1181-1190. In confronting this potential shift in energy supply, Hoffmann et al. (2015) describe how they "investigated the local potential of biofuel-based electricity supplies and their potential impact on food security in a rural setting," where they "assessed the potential for the replacement of energy from fossil fuels with that from oils from locally produced sunflowers and groundnuts in existing combustion engines that are used to run generators in the village of Laela, in the Rukwa region of Western Tanzania.

" And what did they find by so doing? “Hard Lessons From the Great Algae Biofuel Bubble” | Watts Up With That? From 2005 to 2012, dozens of companies managed to extract hundreds of millions in cash from VCs in hopes of ultimately extracting fuel oil from algae.CEOs, entrepreneurs and investors were making huge claims about the promise of algae-based biofuels; the U.S. Department of Energy was also making big bets through its bioenergy technologies office; industry advocates claimed that commercial algae fuels were within near-term reach.Jim Lane of Biofuels Digest authored what was possibly history’s least accurate market forecast, projecting that algal biofuel capacity would reach 1 billion gallons by 2014. In 2009, Solazyme promised competitively priced fuel from algae by 2012. Algenol planned to make 100 million gallons of ethanol annually in Mexico’s Sonoran Desert by the end of 2009 and 1 billion gallons by the end of 2012 at a production rate of 10,000 gallons per acre.

“VC” refers to venture capitalists. I had to look it up because I didn’t think the Viet Cong were still in business. New Paper: CO2 Emissions From Biofuels Are Worse Than Coal, Yet EU Says Biofuels Are ‘Carbon Neutral’ Governments promote biofuels as renewable, carbon-neutral resources that serve to reduce CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, scientists have determined that biomass burning generates more CO2 emissions per kWh than burning coal does, and the projected rapid growth in biofuel use will only serve to ‘increase atmospheric CO2 for at least a century’. Sterman et al., 2018 “[G]overnments around the world are promoting biomass to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The European Union declared biofuels to be carbon-neutral to help meet its goal of 20% renewable energy by 2020, triggering a surge in use of wood for heat and electricity (European Commission 2003, Leturcq 2014, Stupak et al 2007). … But do biofuels actually reduce GHG emissions?”

“[A]lthough wood has approximately the same carbon intensity as coal (0.027 vs. 0.025 tC GJ−1 of primary energy […]), combustion efficiency of wood and wood pellets is lower (Netherlands Enterprise Agency; IEA 2016). Fanous and Moomaw, 2018. Palm oil: Down from the conservation barricades and out of the rhetorical trenches. Oil palm is alternatively seen as a gift from god or a crime against humanity; according to science, it is neither Norwegian University of Life Sciences IMAGE: The view of an oil palm plantation in Indonesia. Credit: Douglas Sheil Oil palm is neither the devil’s work, nor a godsend to humanity. Its effects on its surroundings largely depends on case-specific circumstances. Those who ask to boycott all palm oil due to its contribution to deforestation should also consider boycotting coffee, chocolate and coconut if they wish to be consistent.

Are you for or against palm oil? Ask anyone who has kept half an eye on the news the last couple of years, and they will most likely say “Against, obviously. The environmental impacts of the palm oil industry are widely recognised. According to science, it is neither. Flawed debate Two leading scientists on forest conservation and management call for a more nuanced debate when it comes to palm oil and their plantations. The only cause of deforestation? Leaked figures show spike in palm oil use for biodiesel in Europe | Environment. Leaked trade industry figures show a five-fold increase in the use of palm oil for biodiesel in Europe between 2010 and 2014, providing new evidence of links between deforestation in southeast Asia and the EU’s renewable energy mandate.

The leaked figures, which the Guardian has seen, show that 45% of palm oil used in Europe in 2014 went to biodiesel, up from 8% in 2010. Greenhouse gas emissions from biodiesel are more than three times higher than those from conventional diesel engines when indirect effects are considered, according to recent research by the European commission. Campaigners say the leaked figures from the Fediol trade association provide further evidence that an EU target for sourcing 10% of Europe’s transport to renewables by 2020 is fuelling global warming.

Jos Dings, the director of green campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E), which published the leak, said: “We now know why the industry is withholding these numbers.