If you need to find biodisel in the and the rest of the world you could check out Nate Clarke's website, called Findbiodiesel.org. Its a work in progress, you can add your own details if you wish.
We got there in the end Nate!
If you need to find biodisel in the and the rest of the world you could check out Nate Clarke's website, called Findbiodiesel.org. Its a work in progress, you can add your own details if you wish.
We got there in the end Nate!
Taking some of the key findnings
Transfers per tonne of CO2-equivalent removed are estimated to be between 575 and 800 euros for ethanol made from sugarbeat, around 215 euros for biodiesel made from used cooking oil, and over 600 euros for biodiesel made from rapeseed. Purchasing CO2-equivalent offsets on the European Cimate Exchange would be far cheaper.
The report adds
Biofuels benefit from a broad range of public support measures at the EU level and among Member States. Excise tax exemptions account for the largest share of support and amounted to almost € 3 billion in 2006. Because this type of subsidy is directly linked to production or consumption, the cost of this measure (in terms of foregone revenue) is expected to rise significantly in the coming years as biofuels production is boosted to reach the Commission’s targets.
Complementing or replacing favourable tax treatment, some Member States have adopted mandatory blending requirements. In most of these cases, the blending ratios are set to increase progressively over time so as to attain, or exceed, the target for 2010 set by the Commission. Although data limitations prevent accurate quantification of these mandatory blending requirements, it is certain that they represent powerful government interventions in the market for transport fuels and provide significant support to the biofuels industry.
Meanwhile, high tariff barriers (€ 0.102 or € 0.192 per litre, depending on whether it is denatured) continue to protect the European ethanol market against imports from third countries, particularly Brazil. Theses tariffs provide price support to EU producers (of an estimated € 420 million in 2006), preventing access by its consumers to cheaper foreign imports and isolating EU producers from international competition.
Translated into litres of petrol and petroleum diesel equivalent, the rates of support are considerably higher for ethanol than for biodiesel. In the case of ethanol, its level of support on a petrol-equivalent basis is more than twice that of the € 0.46 ex-tax market price for regular unleaded (RON 91) petrol in 2006. Transfers as a share of market value were around 65 percent for biodiesel and between 70 and 110 percent for ethanol. These rates would rise were gasoline and diesel prices to fall.
1. Resist instituting new consumption mandates for biofuels, at least without first undertaking a thorough examination of the costs and benefits of doing so.
2. Eliminate all tariffs on imported fuel ethanol.
3. Avoid providing new specific subsidies to the industry, and move to re-instate fuel-excise taxes on biofuels where this has not already been done.
Improve the information available on support provided to the biofuels industry, and the effects of
such support, as well as on production, capacity and trade in biofuels.
4. Put in place an evaluation process that can thoroughly assess the cost-effectiveness of each Member State’s support policies in attaining all three of the objectives behind the EU biofuels policy.
This is a good place to start the debate from, I'll be looking out for national biofuel board's perspectives in the coming days and weeks. It will be interesgting to see the kind of comporomise that the European Commission reaches.
I came across this on YouTube, it was posted a little earlier today... before you watch it, you might be interested to read about what the price of palm oil is doing to the biofuel industry in southeast Asia. If you don't want to have any doubts about getting rich quickly (oh, if you've got the odd $1m under the mattress) then just watch the video.
University of California, Berkeley, has won a further $10m from the Federal government to research biofuels, according to Deepti Arora in the Daily Californian, which says:
A group headed by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory received an extra $10 million Monday to jump-start research on biofuels at a center established in July with a $125 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The Berkeley lab is working with a number of research institutions at a facility in Emeryville to develop affordable biofuels. It is one of three groups throughout the country to receive the federal grant to further research of alternative fuel sources.
The Bay Area center has now received a total of $135 million from the energy department, as part of an effort to produce cost-competitive cellulosic ethanol by 2012.
The federal grant followed a $500 million award to the UC Berkeley campus from oil company BP announced in February, which will establish a bioenergy research facility at the Berkeley lab.
It looks like BP made a good bet funding research at Berkeley rather than London's Imperial College, which I think was also in the running for BP funding. While there is no doubt about the intellectual calibre of the staff at Imperial, it is hard to imagine the UK government, or European Union being as generous with additional support. But then, neither have to stop a president getting egg over his face, if 35 Billion Gallons Of Renewable And Alternative Fuels In 2017 don't materialise.
Some of the key proposals in the US Farm Bill 2007, confusingly called “HEARTLAND, HABITAT, HARVEST AND HORTICULTURE ACT OF 2007”have been made public. Hattip to Phillip Brasher at the DesMoines Register.com who writes the Cash Crops blog. Philip says there's plenty of scope for modification he says:
"Under congressional pay-as-you-go rules, any tax cuts or spending increases have to be offset with budget cuts or tax increases"
He calculates the tax and revenue balance is about 12bn out over the lifetime of the proposals. Will that mean a dramatic reduction in the amount of support for biofuels... hum not sure.
It is rather long. But there are bound to be devils in the details, and if you're in the business it would be helpful to see just what the competition may be getting when the bill passes, l
There's a graphic post over on Green Wombat, about just how the US is in thrall to inefficent cars. It takes the stance that Silicon Valley is one of the most 'green' areas in California, yet they commute long distances daily in inefficent cars.
I'm going to say it again: There's little point in bothering with fuels based on feedstocks that have high alternative values such as biofuels built on corn ethanol until there is a serious improvement in US automotive fuel efficiency. Switching to biofuels simply leaves more expensive oil in the ground and pushes up the price of foodstuffs.
Lady Ethanol holds the heart of congress, concludes my good mate, Joe Kamalick, writing in ICIS news the other week, in a piece about the strength of the US ethanol lobby.
Disclosure: I work for ICIS. About ICIS.
She is not the unblemished beauty she once was - she eats too much, costs too much and has some embarrassing emissions - but the enchanting Lady Ethanol still commands the affections of Congress.
A Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based ethanol company, Poet, has finalized an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to build one of the nation's first cellulosic ethanol plants, according to West Central Tribune. The company is Poet and the plant is likely to come on stream, in 2011, according to the report.
There is some research which suggests that total ethanol yield obtained by fermenting starch and both fiber fractions was 0.370 L/kg compared with ethanol yield of 0.334 L/kg obtained by fermenting starch alone. That's about a 10% yield increase.
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation published its most recent crops prospect and Food Situation Report. Key findings to chew over as you go to the report:
The global cereal supply and demand situation has continued to tighten in recent months, reflecting the deterioration of prospects for the 2007 world cereal production, which nevertheless is still expected to reach a record high. However, on current indications, this year’s harvest would only just meet the expected level of utilization in 2007/08, thus precluding a replenishment of cereal stocks, which are anticipated to remain at very low levels.
Record maize harvests were confirmed in South America, with production of Brazil increasing by one-quarter from last year’s good level. A record maize crop is also in prospect in Mexico, the largest producer in Central America. These good crops reflect expansions in plantings and exceptional high yields.
But in its press release the FAO says:
Maize prices are also well above last year’s levels, despite the bumper crop materializing this year, mainly reflecting continued strong demand from the biofuel industry.
It will be interesting to see if the set aside land in the US and European Union will be capable of delivering the additonal extra crops needed to meet biofuels demand...
ICIS Chemical Bsiness, my old publication, has a feature on biofuels this week and is worth checking out.
Feld thoughts has been looking at irrational exuberance in ethanol and been hit by two things. That, the idea of the US ethanol market resembels a bubble and that there is likely to be price inflation as the price of grains rise. Feld thoughts was looking at Is the ethanol boom going bust by Daniel Gross in Slate. That's a pretty good connection, and there are interesting parallels with the .com bubble and railway booms in the 19 Century, but it would have been a more interesting analysis if the author had cast his net a little wider.
Its not just the US that inflation is happening in parts of south east Asia the price of palm oil, used there as a food first and a fuel second has risen high enough to make it useless as a feedstock for biodiesel. There have been food riots in the Yemen and Mexico over the price of staples this year. Sure there'll be price inflation in the US, but in the short term the US can stand that. It's the world's poor in poor nations that rely on their states buying grain that are at the sharp end of the ethanol bubble.
Back to slate writing of the US ethanol market:
Critics of ethanol have long argued that ethanol production subsidies are a half-baked industrial policy scheme intended to reward politically powerful farmers in the Midwest. The gulf between the rich incentives for creating ethanol supply and the poor incentives for creating wholesale and retail distribution suggest the critics were absolutely right.
His words not mine.
But the truth is, corn ethanol is neither the perfect nor the permanent answer to our energy challenge. There are legitimate economic and ecological concerns about an over-reliance on corn-based ethanol. And even if we double or triple its production, it won't replace even a tenth of our demand for gasoline. That's why we must invest in the next generation of advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol that can be made from things like switchgrass and woodchips. The struggling paper mills in New Hampshire would be back in business if they could use wood to produce biofuels. We should set a goal to produce the first two billion gallons of advanced biofuels by 2013. And we should make sure that more local farms and local refineries have the chance to be a part of this new industry.
Not me. That was Senator Barak Obama, husting away as a presidential candidate in the US and talking about Real Leadership for a Clean Energy Future on Monday, October 8th, 2007 Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It is good to see him talking about cellulosic fuels from waste wood products. Hats off to Gristmill for the whole speech.
Japanese researchers have developed a super sugar cane that produces double the volume of sugar comapred with traditonal cane, and could help make ethanol more cheaply... here's the video...
SRIC’s Carbon Footprint of Biofuels & Petrofuels report suggests that...
land use is so critical [to the environmental impact of biofuels] that – at least from a global warming viewpoint – northern European farmers should plant trees and burn petrodiesel rather than plant rapeseed for biodiesel. Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced more by converting a Malaysian rain forest into a palm oil plantation for biodiesel than by filling tanks with petrodiesel. Yet, it is better to fuel with gasoline and to preserve the Brazilian rain forest than to knock it down to grow sugar cane for bioethanol.
The report has a couple of good points about the capacity of different vegetation types to store carbon, and could be silent on what should be happening to vulnerable species, but its hard to tell most of the report is hidden behind a subscription wall...
According to Planet Ark, yesterday India's cabinet started allowing sugar companies to manufacture ethanol directly from sugarcane juice to aid mills struggling with surplus stocks. Until now, ethanol was produced entirely from the sugarcane byproduct, molasses.
Looks like they're solving a sticky situation... (sorry) more seriously it is interesting that the volume of ethanol to be blended with gasoline is likely to be around 10% from 2008, so the ethanol is likely to be consumed domestically, and not exported.
Canada's Dynamotive has been given an extra $10m from equity investors to help the business grow. The firm is working towards biomass to fuel/power plants in Argentina.
If you are a UK citizen and live in the UK (or some small islands dotted about the globe) and think that biofuel vehicles should be pay less UK road tax you might like to sign this petition by 1 January 2008.
International Food & Agricultural Trade Policy Council is urging the US and EU to open their markets for biofuels from the developing world, where they can be produced far more efficiently, cost effectively and offer major opportunities for economic development and poverty alleviation, according to Biopact, which examines the IPC's investigation in to tariffs on biofuel imports applied by the EU and US.
The rush to ethanol could harm water supplies in parts of the US, according to a report in Planet Ark today. The Ark says:
The US ethanol rush could drain drinking water supplies in parts of the country because corn -- a key source of the country's alternative fuel -- requires vast quantities of water for irrigation, the National Research Council reported on Wednesday
...the use of more corn to make ethanol could drain water supplies like the Ogallala, or High Plains, aquifer, which extends from west Texas up into South Dakota and Wyoming.
Ethanol from corn is not the solution, even if it is good for farmers and farming companies in the midwest
The sweet smell of self sufficiency and profit wafted over the office after I read about a Thai pig farmer who is harnessing methane from his drove/farrow/litter/doylt/sounder or herd of pigs to make electricity, also in Planet Ark today.
I like collective nouns almost as much as I like gazing out of the window wollgathering. My favourites are an exultation of Larks, a murder of Crows and a Parliament of Rooks. Possibly in the biofuel industry a sheaf of ethanol producers; a syphon of straight veg oil users; a boiling or clarification of biodieselers... any more?
One way around the US ethanol tariff is discussed over on No1203 a blog. Looks interesting, import non-fuel grade ethanol and then dehydrate it in the US... If that's going to cost less than $.054/gal it might be worth doing... If there's enough spare ethanol to export from Brazil...
Details of the UK's renewable transport fuel obligation are out, published on 09 October, reprinted in They Work for you (a website that aims to help you keep track of your MP, one for the anoraks (policy wonks) then).
Biofuels could play a significant role in both reducing green house gases and aligning the demand for fuel in the global north, in places such as the UK and the need to reduce poverty amongst the worlds poorest people, predominantly in the tropics. While the RTFO will help to increase the demand for biofuels in the UK, it will not help reduce global poverty unless the UK can find a way of reducing the tariff barriers that protect inefficient producers using wheat or maize or rapeseed oil in northern latitudes. Additionally, there is a considerable volume of biomass wasted in the UK. This is food past its sell-by date which could be used to generate biofuels.... Which politicians will have the bottle for these challenges...
Hattip to the Biofuelwatch@yahoo.com group for the pointer
You can make your own biofuels at around 12pence ($0.24/Euro0.16)/litre in the UK if you use waste oil, according to EcoTec resources. That's a saving of around 88p/litre on a gallon of diesel. At those prices you could afford to pay the excise duty! And you should.
Hat tip to SenterNovem.
Genencor, a division of Danisco A/S, will announce prior to the Cellulosic Ethanol Summit the first available biomass enzyme product developed specifically for second generation biorefineries and the cellulosic ethanol market. This is the first of a series of products which the company is developing to move the biorefinery industry towards full deployment. Commercial interest in second generation biorefineries, driven in part by government policies to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and increase energy security, has accelerated over the past two years in the United States and around the world on Monday, October 15, 2007 10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. at the The Almas Temple Club
Meeting Room 2, Level P1
1315 K Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
You'll need an invitation to go... and as its in Washington, I won't be there, which is a pity, because it looks like it might be interesting...
Business Week says that big oil has a downer on biofuels, and is actively trying to stop the spread of E85.
Big oil is apparently applying a range of efforts
from funding studies that bash the spread of ethanol for driving up the price of corn, and therefore some food, to not supporting E85 pumps at gas stations. The tactics infuriate a growing chorus of critics, from the usual suspects—pro-ethanol consumer groups—to the unexpected: the oil industry's oft-time ally, the auto industry.
That's a lot of people to be irritating.
There's more than palm oil in palm oil, according to a story in ICIS Chemical Business this week, which features Carotech, a company in Indonesia which has found ways of extracting phytonutrients and producing methyl ester from the palm oil in a continuous process. Carotech won an award.
Disclosure: I work for ICIS: About ICIS.
Brazil was making representations at Doha Round negotiations on liberalising trade in environmental goods, and called for specific products to be slated for expedited tariff cuts based on a request-offer process - with biofuels included.
The talks must "encourage a larger participation of developing countries in this [environmental goods] commerce and must promote their capacity to develop environmental goods industries, argues the proposal (JOB (07/146)). To this end, it advocates "improved market access for their exports of agricultural environmental goods" as a result of the negotiations. Brazil, which is one of the world's biggest producers of ethanol, said that "biofuels are essentially an environmental good," suggesting that trade barriers on them should be reduced.
Ronald Steenblik, head of research for the Global Subsidies Initiative, which has heavily criticised subsidies for biofuel production, allowed that the Brazil's blanket qualification of biofuels as environmental goods was "not very nuanced." Nevertheless, he said that "cane-based ethanol from existing cane plantations has good energy balance and greenhouse-gas mitigation properties." Given that "many countries have mandated the use of biofuels for environmental reasons, it is right and proper for Brazil to take them at their word, and ask them to level the playing field" between domestic and imported ethanol, he said. Steenblik did caution that the emissions-saving benefits of replacing fossil fuels with biofuels could potentially be compromised if large areas of savanna or forest land were to be brought under cultivation, either to directly produce biofuel feedstocks or to make up for displaced food, fibre or feed production.
Ron has a couple of good points here. If biofuels are to be used then surely it makes more environmental sense to grow them in areas where there are advantages rather in the north, where food crops have to be diverted into their use. Politically, the boot is on the other foot in the EU and US.
I don't want to run farmers down, I but maybe they should think about growing crops that make economic sense without subsidies.
Genencor has given more details of its enzyme package for second generation biofuels at a press conference in New York today.
Dashing out the door last night, I noticed that one of my colleagues in New York had emailed me a press release from Genencor about its second generation cellulosic enzyme technology, which I posted.
I arrive back in the office, refreshed and alert after a good night's sleep (and a train commute to remember) to find two e-mails, one from Doris who sent the release on to me (and is planning her own blog later in the year) and one from Joe, who went to the press conference. The feeling is there may have been a little over selling in the press release. I'd say that's pretty normal.
In Joe's story we get to hear form Jack Huttner, head of biorefinery business development for Genencor, who injects a note of reality into the proceedings. Quoting from Joe's article:
He said the product, called Accellerase, will help biorefiners learn how to integrate commercial enzymes in their production units and will accelerate and improve ethanol yield.
The Genencor enzyme works on feedstocks such as sugar cane bagasse (cane stalk remnants from sugar production), soft wood chips and paper pulp. He said Genencor focused on enzyme development that could take advantage of the most readily available feedstocks.
He noted that cellulosic ethanol production still faces commercial and business obstacles as well as technical challenges, “but these things are all starting to come together”.
The telling numbers are at the end of the piece:
He said continued government support for cellulosic development is necessary because of ongoing research needs and the higher capital costs of cellulosic production. Capital investment for corn-based ethanol typically is $1 for every gallon of capacity production while cellulosic production requires as much as $3.50 of capital per gallon of capacity.
Richard Branson set early 2008 as a time for Virgin Atlantic, his airline to trial biofuel in a Boeing 747 flight at a meeting of Mortgage Bankers (its got to be more interesting talking about biofuels than mortages, Dickie*, but think of your audience).Reuters quotes him as saying:
In the meantime, Virgin will be conducting a test jet flight on renewable fuels. "Early next year we will fly one of our 747s without passengers with one of the fuels that we have developed," Branson told the annual conference.
*Dick is the UK contaction of Richard, so is Dickie.
I've been going on about water, quite a bit. I make no apologies for it. If I could just quote from Dr Strangeglove (or how I stopped worrying and learned to love the bomb)
Ripper: Water. That's what I'm getting at. Water. Mandrake, water is the source of all
There are many with romantic notions about the role of the biofuels industry. One thing is certain, according to a BP speaker at the ethanolintel conference in Singapore, there's no way we can meet demand in the future by using old chip fat, according to a report on ICIS news.
Citing a joint BP and McKinsey study, Sung-Woo Hur, vice president of business development at BP Biofuels Singapore, estimated that by 2030, 85bn-195bn gallons/year of biofuel will be produced, replacing between 10% and 24% of gasoline demand.
Assuming that biofuel is produced at 196bn gallons/year, this would require a "capital intensive" cumulative investment of $700bn from now till 2030 and a build rate of one times 100m gallon plants every 4-5 years, he said.
The biofuel industry will need to become very much more mature and integrated if it is going to manage to do this
Interesting post on how the developing and developed world can work together to produce biofuels over on allAfrica.com in a report by Dominique Patton
Nairobi first published in the Nairobi Business Daily. The allAfrica report it features D1 Oils and Sun Biofuels. It says:
Jatropha could be Africa's first real chance to profit from the booming biofuels market and allow it to solve its energy problems at the same time. The tropical plant grows in poor and arid soil conditions and can be grown on land that has fallen out of agricultural production or in wasteland.
Its seeds yield up to 40 per cent oil, and once processed, the waste seed cake could be sold as an organic fertiliser. Most importantly, though, jatropha is not edible so increased planting will not put pressure on food supply, say proponents.
We know that, what is interesting is the plant's water requirements:
D1Oils estimates it needs between 300 and 1,000 ml of water a year for optimum output.
That sounds low, compared with 35 inches for corn
"If we can get the logistics right, we would look at prices of $570 to $625 per tonne, which is below the current palm oil price," says Mr Prince.
The report also touches on logistics and price:
Palm oil has recently surged to $770 per tonne, up from $417 per tonne in June 2006, and higher than even crude oil. This has led to most biofuel plants in Malaysia being abandoned.
Team Ethanol are trying to compare the fuel efficiency of running a Saab from Darwen to Alice Springs (about 930miles/1498km) and running it on e85 (there) and unleaded (back) in the World Solar Challenge, which is more about endurance than raw speed. Google maps puts the drive time at 17 hours and 33 minutes (that's about 86kmh, most efficient driving is at 80 kmh).Among other sponsors, the United Nations of Beer is backing the solar challenge.
Team ethanol is off to Darwin today
You'll be able to follow their progress in a box on the right hand side of the blog. .
Water shortages could follow Chinese and Indian plans to use sugarcane to make biofuels, according to a report from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) , carried on Planet Ark this morning.
The report, Biofuels and implications for agricultural water use:
blue impacts of green energy says
I only heard about the possibilities of using a bush called Pongamia as biofuel crop today when I came across the International Water Management Institute's (IWMI) report on water use and biofuels. The IWMI says it might be a suitable biofuel crop... It certainly looks rather nice.
picture from Binux on flickr
1. It is a hardy blighter and grows well in wet, dry and saline soils. It fixes nitrogen and its seeds are 30-40% oil, and it's widely grown in India .
2. It is a flowering shrub, like wisteria.
3. It travels under a number of names and is also called Indian Beech, Pongam, Honge, Ponge, and Karanj.
4. The British Standards Institute studied it in India in the 1930s and it was proposed as a diesel alternative.
5. People have trans-esterified it's oil into biodiesel with properties close to ASTM diesel standards.
Getting biofuel to the pump is one of those things that the biofuel industry will have to do if its ever going to succeed. Over on the Huffington Post there's a report by Judy Duggan examining some of the issues that are preventing this.
One thing that she doesn't cover is gasoline distribution infrastructure... which is rather leaky and therefore prone to allow water to mix with the contents of tanks and pipes, that doesn't matter too much if you're selling something that doesn't mix with water as a fuel, but if its ethanol which does absorb water... But it will have to be sorted out if ethanol is mandated. Ther is also the cost to the garage owner of installing the pumps, tanks and so on.
hattip to automotive.com
I'll be out of the office on holiday (doesn't my life seem like one long holiday) from Monday 22 October to 26th October). I'll only be thinking about work intermittently (if at all) during that time. So I've left you some things that are good to watch mostly from you tube.
She wants 90% of petrol demand to be replaced by biofuels and electicity using lignocellulose and waste by 2050...Get with the greens to oil proof Australia.
Converting cars to run on veg oil ...
A swiss view of biopower using wood (hooray).
Warwick University looks at how we could use straw as feedstock for biofuels. They are taking an ethical stance...
Coast to coast with Aphrodesia on thier JustVote Tour on recycled veg oil.They want to build a prototype biofuel-solar-windpowered bus (oh and they need a sponsor)
There's a piece about the way that US several Biofuel IPOs are going bust after a strong start tructure of the US biofuel market availavble in ICIS Chemical Business Magazine, published while I was on holiday. Apart from being written in the past tense, which gives an air of finality to the piece, which is not really justified, there are some interesting conclusions, and the parallel with the US oil industry in the 19th century seems to bear an uncanny similarity.
There is a new trade group designed to promote industrial ethanol in the European Union... called the Industrial Ethanol Association. It has an interesting view of fair trade in ethanol...
I am going to be giving a presentation at the ICIS Bioresources Summit on 4 December Hardwick Hall Hotel, Sedgefield, County Durham, which promises to be fun. The conference department has put it together and the speaker list (apart from me) looks to be quite interesting.
To make it a little more lively than might otherwise be the case I wonder if you could help me by quickly commenting on this post listing the five things that worry you most about biofuels and the five things that you think are the most promising about biofuels. It would be good to feed that back to the meeting.
There were several studies on biofuels issued last week, while I was away, and I'm grateful to Ron Steenblik of the Global Subsidies Institute for pointing out his group's new study in of biofuel subsidies in the US, which was launched at on 23 October at a seminar hosted by the German Marshall Fund. Written (as was the original study) by subsidy expert and long-time critic of subsidies to the oil-industry, Doug Koplow, President of Earth Track, the update is almost as long as the original report, published in October 2006. Besides providing revised estimates of government support for ethanol and biodiesel in the United States, it analyses in-depth some of the proposals for expanding support to the industry that are currently before Congress.
The report's conclusion? Support for the industry looks set to exceed a cumulative of $90 billion for the 2006-2012 period -- without a new RFS. With a new, expanded RFS, support levels beyond that period would continue rising into the 2020s.
In light of the report's findings, the GSI recommends that U.S. federal and state governments:
desist from increasing mandatory consumption levels for biofuels and instead adopt a neutral policy position favouring all options to reduce reliance on petroleum in the transport sector;
take into account the environmental effects of biofuels production and distribution cycles in the design of policies that affect biofuels; and
establish a transparent evaluation process to assess the cost-effectiveness of support policies at all levels of government in attaining the declared objectives behind U.S. biofuels policy.
Policy is extraordinarily complex. It can also be highly irrational. Brazil is, for example, the most efficient supplier of bioethanol, but confronts tariffs of at least 25 per cent in the US and 50 per cent in the European Union. A smaller example is the advantage given to production of “flexible-fuel vehicles” in US corporate average fuel-efficiency standards. Because the fuel-economy credit is biggest for the least energy-efficient models, manufacturers concentrate on sport utility vehicles and light trucks. Yet almost all the drivers of these vehicles use ordinary petrol. The result is greater consumption of petrol, not less.
Complex, the idea of trying to get a handle on all of the aspects of biofuels policy makes me want to bang my head on the desk. My colleague, John Richardson, is slightly more forthright in his view of biofuels... he takes a more quantitative approach in his Asian Chemicals Connections Blog: that the biofuels business is driven by idiocy and hypocrisy .
I think that is a little strong, just as I tend not to sign up to conspiracy theories (on the basis that the people who would have to be behind them would not have enough time available in their lives to pull the stunts off or would have to be at least 150 IQ points brighter than your average James Bond villain) and I don't think the business is being driven by hypocrisy. People do see biofuels as being a good thing and are trying their best to mitigate the effects of using gasoline.
They also see biofuels as a way of raising farm gate prices and therefore political support in key consituencies. But, it seems to me that often people's views are partial as is their information. Martin Wolf is right when he uses the word irrational, later in his piece and also when he adds later in his column that there is a hidden cost to apparently costless mandates
eliminate increasingly popular (because apparently costless) mandates to use specific quantities of biofuels, since these shift all the risk of fluctuations in demand and supply of foodstuffs on to their use as food...That kind of change is tricky because the connection is not always obvious, at least at first... It may take 20 years to deplete and aquifer and you may not realise until you're half way through the last year that you are running out of water.