Wednesday, October 31, 2012

[biofuelwatch] New WRM report on Sime Darby in Liberia





http://www.wrm.org.uy/bulletin/182/Liberia.html

UNCERTAIN FUTURES.
The impacts of Sime Darby on communities in Liberia

download as pdf 

Media Brief

Large-scale land grant to Sime Darby to grow oil palm in Liberia threatens the rights of local communities, their food security, and puts their wellbeing at risk.

Large-scale land grants totalling more than 1.5 million acres to Sime Darby and Golden Veroleum for oil palm and rubber plantations jeopardizes land rights of local populations, threatens local livelihoods and wellbeing of communities, and puts the future viability of one of the world's most significant biodiversity hotspots into doubt. A new report (Uncertain Futures) released, by the Liberian NGO Sustainable Development Institute, today presents testimonies of people affected by Sime Darby operations in western Liberia and
highlights the fears of others where the company plans to expand in the coming years.

According to the report, "the situation facing communities impacted by the expansion of Sime Darby's plantation in Garwula District, western Liberia is dire: the plantation is on their doorsteps, and their farms and farmlands are being swallowed up by it. There are very few alternative livelihood options." According to locals interviewed for the report, Sime Darby did not pay compensation for farm lands to them. They also claim that compensation paid for crops that had been destroyed was inadequate and that forest areas used for cultural practices had also been destroyed and planted with oil palm.

In 2009 the Government of Liberia allocated more than half a million acres of land to Sime Darby without consulting or securing the consent of those living on and using the land. Based on reaction of communities in the counties affected by the land grant, it is highly likely that communities and private landowners in these areas will continually challenge implementation of the contract. According to the report, this might lead to Sime Darby and the government using aggressive tactics to ensure that the company continues to expand, which could generate conflicts that then deteriorate into violence. On the other hand the government and Sime Darby could accept that the contract cannot be implemented without violating the rights of others and therefore renegotiate the terms. Though this will slow down the company's operation, it could provide an opportunity to rectify past failures by holding proper consultations with private landowners and communities, and for those with an interest in oil palm development on their land to negotiate a fair deal that takes into account their livelihoods and the overall environmental health of their communities.

But, the report caution that regardless of how well the contract is negotiated, and how much incentive the government and Sime Darby are able to offer, there will inevitably be private land owners, families and communities who will not want to give up their land for oil palm plantation. In such situation the government and Sime Darby would do well to recognize and respect the rights and interests of these groups. This would not only demonstrate a genuine desire to uphold the rule of law on the part of the government, it would also demonstrate that the government puts the interests of its citizens above all else.

Silas Kpanan'Ayoung Siakor, the author of the report, points out that "the situation highlighted by this case study is about much more than the impacts of a single company." He warns "allocating large swathes of fertile agricultural land to foreign companies for several decades is dangerous, because as these companies expand their plantations communities' ability to cope will be stretched to the limit, and it will push people further into poverty, as their income generating activities are curtailed and earning capacities become limited".

"To avoid future conflicts, the government needs to critically examine its policy on land allocation, with a view to reforming the current processes for allocating land to investors, especially in the agricultural sector. The current approach disregards the rights and livelihoods of those that inhabit these lands, and generates conflicts between the companies and the host communities. A new approach that is developed through an inclusive process should allow for those that would be affected by the proposed project to have a greater say in the decisions regarding whether or not the allocation is made. The new approach and processes should be based on the principles of fairness and justice, and backed by appropriate legislation" the report concludes.



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Sunday, October 28, 2012

[biofuelwatch] FREE WEBINAR: Are GMOs Really "Alright" or FrankenFood Best Out of Sight?



Hear this hotly contested issue debated between Alexis Baden-Mayer, Esq. Consumer Activist and Thomas P. Redick, Global Environmental Ethics Counsel. What are the fundamental facts and realities regarding GMO and GE foods in our modern food supply?

http://www.foodseminarsinternational.com/November_5th.html




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Saturday, October 27, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Maize could be greener energy fuel, East Anglian farmers told - Farming News - Eastern Daily Press





http://www.edp24.co.uk:80/business/farming-news/maize_could_be_greener_energy_fuel_east_anglian_farmers_told_1_1672105

Green crop farm digesters were twice as efficient as official figures, according to a leading independent biogas consultant.

An East Anglian trial of more than a dozen varieties at a "maize for biogas" trial near Mildenhall showed the performance gap between official figures and farm anaerobic digesters.
Richard Crowhurst, managing director of Enagri, told farmers and growers that the biofuel generating potential was much higher than official figures.
He said that the current projects would more than double the existing capacity of on-farm anaerobic digesters.
The Shropshire Group, which had staged the trials of 12 Syngenta varieties to assess the agronomic performance.
Mr Crowhurst said that politicians did not appear to understand the complete energy picture. "It just shows that they do not understand how these crops are grown specifically as a biofuel source for efficient green energy production."
The crucial factor for energy production from AD plants was the quality of feedstock, said Syngenta's maize specialist Nigel Padbury. "When selecting suitable maize varieties for biogas feedstock it's all about the yield of digestible dry matter."
In order to produce as much methane as possible from an AD plant, a variety with more concentrated energy was key.
"But as it doesn't make sense to harvest, ensile and handle more material than necessary, gross yield is not the best way to compare varieties for biogas production. From a movement and storage point of view, I would go for the concentrated energy of NK Bull every time."
"An energy rich maize variety generates more output from any given volume going into the digester," said Mr Padbury.



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Friday, October 26, 2012

[biofuelwatch] FW: [PLS VOTE & SHARE] - pls vote for ActionAid biofuels campaign





Hi all,

ActionAid’s biofuels campaign has been shortlisted for the European Public Affairs awards. This is a great chance to raise the issues of biofuels among this audience.

 

We need to spread the news far and wide, and encourage as many people and other organisations to vote for us. The link you need is here: http://www.epaawards.com/index.php/2012-shortlist/campaign-of-the-year - click on ‘vote now’ under ActionAid.

 

Voting is open until Wednesday 31st October. It’s important to get as many different organisations to vote for us, as where lots of people from one organisation have voted for one campaign, the votes will be put together in one block and counted as one vote.

 

Thanks in advance (and hope you’ll forgive the self-promoting email!)

Yours,

 

Lucy Hurn

When 1 billion people are hungry globally, putting crops into cars - rather than mouths is bonkers! Watch Drive Aid - Stop the biofuels landgrab: http://bit.ly/driveaidvideo

Biofuels campaign manager
ActionAid UK
33-39 Bowling Green Lane
London

EC1R 0BJ
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 3122 0551
lucy.hurn@actionaid.org
www.actionaid.org.uk

Skype: looocey

 

End poverty. Together.

 

 

 




Is this the moment you change a child's future? Sponsor a child for 50p a day
ActionAid is a registered charity No. 274467 and a company limited by guarantee
Registered office: ActionAid, 33 - 39 Bowling Green Lane, London EC1R 0BJ, UK
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[biofuelwatch] Fwd: Large-Scale Algae Biofuels Currently Unsustainable, New Report Concludes



Begin forwarded message:


Large-Scale Algae Biofuels Currently Unsustainable, New Report Concludes

on 24 October 2012, 5:41 PM | 4 Comments

A report out today from the National Research Council (NRC) of the U.S. National Academies says that large-scale production of biofuels from algae is untenable with existing technology, as it would require the use of too much water, energy, and fertilizer. To improve matters, the report's authors suggest that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which supports much of the research in the field, should conduct assessments of proposed technologies that examine sustainability at all stages of fuel production, including growing or collecting algae and harvesting their oil and converting it into transportation fuels.

Efforts to make biofuel from algae have been under way for more than 3 decades, and have picked up considerable steam in recent years. Algae's big advantage is that unlike traditional biofuels, such as ethanol made from corn kernels or sugar, algae wouldn't compete for agricultural land with food crops. It also has the potential to produce as much as 10 times more fuel per hectare, according to the DOE's 2010 National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap.

But there are many different approaches to growing algae, such as growing the microscopic plants in shallow outdoor ponds, or in enclosed plastic tubes called bioreactors. And the industry is far from settled on a single approach. No matter what the strategy, however, the NRC committee concluded that current technology scaled up to produce 39 billion liters a year—approximately 5% of U.S. transportation fuel needs—would require an unsustainable level of inputs. Current technologies, for example, need between 3.15 liters and 3650 liters of water to produce the amount of algal biofuel equivalent to 1 liter of gasoline, the panel concluded. (That's potentially less than the estimated 5 liters to 2140 liters of water required to produce a liter of ethanol from corn, but more than the 1.9 liters to 6.6 liters of water needed to produce a liter of petroleum-based gasoline.) Growers would also have to add between 6 million and 15 million metric tons of nitrogen and between 1 million and 2 million metric tons of phosphorus to produce 39 billion liters of algal biofuels. That's between 44% and 107% of the total use of nitrogen in the United States, and between 20% and 51% of the nation's phosphorus use for agriculture.

The good news is that there's still plenty of potential for improvement. "The committee does not consider any one of these sustainability concerns a definitive barrier to sustainable development of algal biofuels because mitigation strategies for each of those concerns have been proposed and are being developed," the report concludes. The use of water and added nutrients, for example, could drop markedly if engineers come up with ways to efficiently recycle used water and nutrients, perhaps even using nutrient-rich wastewater from agricultural or municipal sources. But for algal biofuels to reach their full potential, researchers will need to integrate these and other advances and ensure that at each stage algae is converted to fuels in the most sustainable way possible.


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[biofuelwatch] Drax raises £190m for "eco conversion"



http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/cccd46b4-1eb8-11e2-be82-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2AP0gOQ59

Drax raises £190m for eco conversion

By Pilita Clark, Environment Correspondent

Drax, the owner of the UK's biggest coal-fired power station, has raised £190m in a share placing in its latest effort to transform itself into one of Europe's biggest renewable energy plants.

In a sign of how changes to UK energy subsidies are affecting the green power market, Drax will spend the money converting three of the six generating units at its Selby plant in North Yorkshire so they can burn biomass, or plant matter, instead of coal.

The previously announced conversion programme will cost between £650m and £700m, backed by the placing of 9.99 per cent of existing share capital on Thursday at 520p, representing a zero discount to the opening price.

Shares in Drax closed up 5.4 per cent on Thursday at 548p.

Additional funding will come from £230m of cash; a new £100m loan and by increasing a bank credit line from £310m to £400m.

The first converted generating unit is due to be up and running by April next year and the last by 2016. This will create 2,000MW of capacity, making Drax one of Europe's biggest clean energy generators.

The company is already a leading importer of wood pellets, which it burns with coal in a process known as "co-firing".

Its move follows subsidy changes announced in July that make it more attractive to fully convert coal-fired power stations into biomass, rather than co-firing or building brand new dedicated biomass power plants.

Those changes led Centrica, the owner of British Gas, to announce on Wednesday it was ditching plans to build dedicated biomass power stations at Roosecote in Barrow-in-Furness and at Glanford Brigg in North Lincolnshire.

Drax had also been planning to spend at least £2bn on three dedicated biomass plants – one at its Selby site; one in Humberside and a third at another site in northern England – but made clear after the July subsidy changes that these would not go ahead.

Drax's moves meant it could end up importing as much as 8m tonnes of wood pellets a year, said Hannes Lechner of Pöyry Management Consulting's global bioenergy practice, up from 1m tonnes last year.

"If they go for up to 8m tonnes they would be by far the biggest biomass consumer for energy worldwide," he said.

Drax's existing conversion plans mean it will be responsible for meeting 10 per cent of the UK's target of producing 30 per cent of electricity from renewables by 2020.

About half its £650m-£700m biomass investment will be spent on the Selby site modifying boilers, storage facilities and other equipment. The other half will be used to upgrade port facilities and build new wood pellet plants in North America.




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Thursday, October 25, 2012

[biofuelwatch] BP cancels plans for $300m ethanol plant





---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "FT Alerts" <Alerts@ft.com>
Date: Oct 26, 2012 1:38 AM
Subject: BP cancels plans for $300m ethanol plant
To: <andrewboswell@fastmail.co.uk>

     
 
Financial Times
News Alert
26 October 2012
 
Keyword(s): biofuel
Frequency: Immediately
 
October 26, 12:24am
BP cancels plans for $300m ethanol plant
BP has cancelled plans to build a $300m ethanol plant in Florida in another blow to hopes that "second-generation" biofuels will make a significant contribution to fuel supplies in the next few years.
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/d4f6be9c-1eef-11e2-be82-00144feabdc0.html
 
 
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[biofuelwatch] UNAC statement on the ProSavana Programme





http://viacampesina.org/en/index.php/main-issues-mainmenu-27/agrarian-reform-mainmenu-36/1321-land-grabbing-for-agribusiness-on-mozambique-unac-statement-on-the-prosavana-programme


UNAC statement on the ProSavana Programme

 

We, peasants of the Provincial Nucleus of Peasants in Nampula, the Provincial Nucleus of Peasants in Zambezia, the Provincial Peasants Union of Niassa and the Provincial Union of Peasants of Cabo Delgado, and who are all members of the National Peasants' Union (UNAC), met on the 11th of October 2012, in the town of 

Nampula with the aim of discussing and analyzing the ProSavana Programme.


The ProSavana Programme is a triangular project between the Republic of Mozambique, the Federal Republic of Brazil and Japan, for the development of large-scale agriculture in the Nacala Development Corridor, affecting 14 districts in the provinces of Niassa, Nampula and Zambezia, covering an area of approximately 14 million hectares. The project was inspired by an earlier agricultural development project implemented by the Brazilian and Japanese governments in the Brazilian Cerrado (savannah), where large-scale industrial farming of monocrops (mainly soybeans) is now practiced. This Brazilian project led to a degradation of the environment and the near extinction of indigenous communities living in the affected areas. The Nacala Corridor was chosen because its savannah has similar characteristics to the Brazilian Cerrado, in terms of its climate and agroecology, and because of the ease with which products can be exported.


Ever since hearing about the ProSavana Programme, we have noticed a lack of information and transparency from the main stakeholders involved (the governments of Mozambique, Brazil and Japan), and this is why we held the aforementioned meeting.


We, peasant farmers, condemn the way in which the ProSavana programme was drafted and the way it is intended to be implemented in Mozambique, which has been characterised by reduced transparency and the exclusion of civil society organisations throughout the process, especially peasant organisations.


Following a comprehensive analysis of ProSavana, we peasant farmers have concluded that:

·        ProSavana is a result of a top-down policy, which  does not take into consideration the demands, dreams and basic concerns of peasants, particularly those within the Nacala Corridor;

·        We vehemently condemn any initiative which aims to resettle communities and expropriate the land of peasants to give way to mega farming projects for monocrop production (soybeans, sugar cane, cotton, etc.);

·        We condemn the arrival of masses of Brazilian farmers seeking to establish agribusinesses that will transform Mozambican peasant farmers into their employees and rural labourers.

·        We are extremely concerned that Prosavana requires millions of hectares of land along the Nacala Corridor, when the local reality shows that such vast areas of land are not available and are currently used by peasants practicing shifting cultivation.


Considering the way in which the ProSavana programme was drafted and the process for implementing it, we peasant farmers warn of the following expected impacts:

·        The appearance of landless communities in Mozambique, as a result of land expropriation and resettlement;

·        Frequent social upheaval along the Nacala Corridor, and beyond;

·        The impoverishment of rural communities and a reduction in the number of alternatives for survival;

·        An increase in corruption and conflicts of interest;

·        The pollution of water resources as a result of the excessive use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers, as well soil degradation;

·        Ecological imbalances due to vast deforestation for agribusiness projects.


If there is to be investment in the Nacala Corridor, or in Mozambique in general, we recommend and demand that these investments be made in developing peasant farming and the peasant economy, as a priority, which we, members of UNAC and members of Via Campesina, know is the only kind of farming capable of creating dignified and lasting livelihoods, of stemming rural exodus, and of producing high-quality foods in sufficient quantities for the entire Mozambican Nation, all of which will lead us towards the realization of  Food Sovereignty.

 

We remain firmly committed to peasant farming and the agroecological production model-- the foundations of Food Sovereignty-- as alternatives to the development of the agricultural sector in Mozambique which consider all aspects of sustainability and are, in practice, friends of nature.

 

Peasant farming is the pillar of the local economy and contributes to maintaining and increasing rural employment, as well as allowing towns and villages to survive. It allows collectives to strengthen their own culture and identity. The development policies in this alternative model must be socially and environmentally sustainable and must be adapted to the real challenges and demands of the people.

 

Peasants are the guardians of life, nature and the planet. As a peasants' movement in the family sector, UNAC pursues production models based on the foundations of peasant farming (respect and conservation of the soil, use of adapted and appropriate technologies, and a rural extension that is participative and interactive).

 

At a time when the United Nations, through the FAO, informs us that one out of eight people in the world are hungry, with hunger especially severe in developing countries, as is the case of Mozambique, we demand that the Government of Mozambique give priority to the production of food by the family farming sector for domestic consumption, aiming to develop local potential and involving different segments of society.

 

UNAC, 25 years of peasant farming struggles for Food Sovereignty

Fighting to give peasant farmers a greater role in building a fairer, more prosperous society, based on solidarity.

 

Nampula, October 11th 2012



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[biofuelwatch] Please object to RWE’s plans to burn millions of tonnes of wood a year long-term





In January this year, RWE converted the formerly coal-fired Tilbury B plant to become the world's biggest biomass power station.  So far, they only have permission to run the power station for a limited number of hours, probably until late 2013  and the amount of wood burnt there so far has been limited due to a severe fire in February.  This could soon change: RWE have applied to Thurrock Council for a long-term planning permission which would allow them to burn millions of tonnes of imported wood every year for the next 12-15 years. If permission is refused then Tilbury B would be closed down entirely.  If it is granted, then it will cause biodiverse and carbon-rich forests in the southern US and Canada to be devastated.

Please go to www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2012/tilbury-alert/ to object to RWE's new Tilbury application and please share this alert with anyone else interested.

Updates on previous alerts:

1) If you have not yet signed the Avaaz petition "Stop subsidising biofuel rainforest destruction" - it is still open for signatures: www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2012/uk-avaaz-petition-stop-subsidising-biofuel-rainforest-destruction/

2) Great news from Barrow: Centrica have withdrawn their application for a large import-reliant biomass power station there.  Thanks to everybody who took part in the alert to object to this application and, by doing so, helped the excellent local campaign group, Furness Opposes Biomass.

3) Thanks also to all who wrote to Peak Gen to try and get clarifications about their intentions regarding proposed W4B biofuel power stations in Bristol and Portland.  As a result of that alert, we and local campaigners have got some answers.  To find out more, please go to www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2012/peakgen-background/.




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[biofuelwatch] Centrica bails on British biomass plants



http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2219723/centrica-bails-on-british-biomass-plants

Utility blames government's "preference" for converted plants or co-firing for dropping planned plants at Roosecote and Brigg

Centrica Energy has pulled the plug on two planned biomass power plants, citing the government's "preference" for alternative biomass and coal technologies.

Neither the proposed 80MW biomass power station on the site of Centrica's existing Roosecote gas-fired power station, nor a 137MW biomass power station adjacent to the company's existing gas-fired plant at Brigg will now go ahead.

The company said the likely exclusion of dedicated biomass projects from the capacity mechanism outlined in the Energy Bill and proposals to cap support for the technology under the existing Renewable Obligation subsidy scheme were the primary reasons behind the move.

"While the Government has declared its support for biomass as part of the UK's future energy mix, recent clarification on the regulatory framework relating to dedicated biomass plants indicates a preference for co-firing and coal conversion to biomass," Centrica said in a statement.

The proposed cap was unveiled in a government consultation last month, which identified new dedicated biomass plants as more expensive and "increasingly less attractive" in the longer term than co-firing a mixed fuel of biomass and coal or converting existing coal plants to run on biomass.

Despite Centrica's decision, a Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) spokesman insisted the proposed changes to the policy regime would not kill off new dedicated biomass plants in the UK.

"We said in our consultation that the more shovel-ready projects are likely to come forward," he told BusinessGreen. "These [Centrica plans] are smaller projects further away from coming to fruition."

He added the government would publish the results of its consultation by the end of the year.

However, Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association (REA), said the UK "cannot afford" to have large companies such as Centrica dropping out of the biomass power sector.

"This is bad news for employment, the supply chain and energy security," she said. "With a capacity crunch looming in 2015, Government should be doing its utmost to encourage such shovel-ready projects.

"It must act swiftly to repair investor confidence in biomass, and renewables in general. Right now the Government seems to have an institutional bias against new biomass power projects."





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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Fwd: US Ethanol Makers Weigh Switch to Butanol





http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/business/energy-environment/weighing-butanol-as-an-alternative-to-ethanol.html

Corn Ethanol Makers Weigh Switch to Butanol

BYLINE: By HENRY FOUNTAIN

SECTION: Section F; Column 0; Energy; Pg. 4

LENGTH: 833 words

NEARLY a decade after the adoption of federal renewable fuel standards led to a sharp increase in production of ethanol, some producers in the Corn Belt are considering making a different fuel. The fuel, butyl alcohol, or butanol, is worth more to refiners because it has more energy than ethanol, is easier to handle and more of it can be blended into each gallon of gasoline. But producing it will require costly retrofitting of ethanol plants, and plant capacity will be reduced.

Several companies are leading the push for butanol, including Gevo of Englewood, Colo., and Butamax Advanced Biofuels, a joint venture of BP and DuPont based in Wilmington, Del. They have developed ways to make butanol the same way ethanol is made, through yeast-based fermentation and then distillation.

''There are few if any new biofuel molecules that can be made from an existing ethanol plant,'' said Paul Beckwith, chief executive of Butamax. ''The beauty of what we're offering is, it's so similar.''

New butanol-specific plants could also be built, he said, including ones that, like cellulosic ethanol plants, use switch grass or other nonfood raw materials rather than corn.

Butamax is producing butanol at a demonstration plant in Hull, England. And in the United States, it has organized an alliance of ethanol producers who are considering making the shift. The idea, Mr. Beckwith said, is to convert many plants simultaneously, beginning in 2013.

Gevo began making butanol at a 22 million gallon a year ethanol plant in Luverne, Minn., in May, although it has now stopped production.

''We're currently in the process of switching back to ethanol while we give engineering team to make some improvements,'' said Chris Ryan, Gevo's president.

The two companies also are involved in a legal dispute over patents that is working its way through the courts.

Brian D. Kletscher, chief executive of Highwater Ethanol in Lamberton, Minn., a member of Butamax's alliance, said his company would talk with gasoline refiners before making a final decision to convert its plant. ''We see a potentially valuable commodity here,'' Mr. Kletscher said. ''It could allow maybe a 20 to 30 percent increase in our margins. That's the No. 1 thing that sparks us to look at it.''

Last year, Highwater used nearly 19 million bushels of corn to produce about 55 million gallons of ethanol, which was shipped by rail tankers to refineries on the East Coast. If the company decided to go ahead with conversion, the work would take up to a year, Mr. Kletscher said, although the plant would be shut only about two weeks.

Butamax estimates that converting an ethanol plant will cost 20 percent to 30 percent of a plant's original price tag -- perhaps $10 million to $15 million for one the size of Highwater's, more for larger facilities. The conversion will also reduce a plant's capacity about 20 percent, the company said, but the greater value of butanol should more than make up for the lost volume.

Mr. Ryan said Gevo's conversion costs would be somewhat higher, at least initially. Most of the butanol produced at Luverne was sold to the chemical company Sasol, he said. Butanol has long been used in the chemical industry as a solvent.

But Mr. Ryan said Gevo was withholding some of the butanol to develop fuels, and it had a small contract with the Air Force to convert butanol to jet fuel.

Butanol offers several advantages to gasoline refiners, Mr. Beckwith said. It contains about 30 percent more energy than ethanol, and it can be blended with gasoline at a higher percentage -- Butamax recommends 16 percent butanol, compared with the current 10 percent standard for ethanol. That would allow refiners to more quickly meet the Environmental Protection Agency's renewable fuel standards, which were adopted in 2005 and mandate that transportation fuels contain increasing amounts of alternative fuels over time.

Because ethanol evaporates relatively easily, refiners have to remove some of the lighter components from their gasoline so the blended product meets air-quality standards. Butanol evaporates less readily, so refiners can leave many of these more volatile components in, saving money.

Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, an industry group, said butanol was a ''drop-in'' fuel, able to be used with existing gasoline pipelines and other equipment because it does not have a tendency to take up water, as ethanol does.

''It's more fungible in the existing infrastructure,'' he said. ''You could blend it with gasoline and put it in a pipeline -- no problem.''

Butanol would also help producers get around the so-called blend wall, Mr. McAdams said. Given the amount of gasoline used annually in the United States, and the blending limit of 10 percent ethanol, producers are close to their capacity limits, now about 13 billion gallons of ethanol a year.

With the 10 percent limitation, ''you don't have enough gasoline to put the ethanol in,'' he said. ''You don't have that problem with butanol.''





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[biofuelwatch] EU bioenergy policies increase carbon emissions, says leaked EU study



http://www.euractiv.com/climate-environment/eu-bioenergy-policies-increase-c-news-515606

EU bioenergy policies increase carbon emissions, says leaked EU study

Published 24 October 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Bioenergy production is often increasing greenhouse gas emissions in the short term even though the EU currently counts it as a carbon neutral technology, according to an unreleased EU report, which EurActiv has obtained.

Bioenergy made up over two thirds of the EU's primary renewable energy production in 2009, according to Eurostat, and will account for more than half of EU states emissions reductions planned for 2020, according to their National Renewable Energy Action Plans.

But a literature review conducted by the EU's Joint Research Centre (JRC) concludes that, according to best known science, "the use of roundwood [trees] from forests for bioenergy purposes would cause an actual increase in GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions compared to fossil fuels in the short term".

This is because burning a tree to produce bioenergy - in the form of wood pellets or chips – releases all the carbon that the tree has absorbed in its lifetime. It also reduces the carbon sink able to absorb new carbon, at least until it has been replenished by an equivalent carbon absorbing stock.

In the interim, a `carbon debt' is created, with more emissions being created than are reduced by bioenergy use.

The EU report duly finds that "with a proper accounting, roundwood bioenergy would not contribute to short term policy objectives such as the EU 2020 targets, although the use of wastes and residues could make a sizeable contribution".

Such conclusions echo a paper by the European Environment Agency last year, and raise questions as to whether unaccounted bioenergy should continue to count towards EU renewable targets.

Carbon accounting

"I think we should do carbon accounting [towards the renewable targets]," said Professor Detlef Sprinz, the chairman of the independent scientific committee advising the EU's European Environment Agency.

"We want to do good things but we unintentionally increase carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions," he told EurActiv. "We need to link good policy actions to proper accounting and avoid unwanted effects."

The EU's carbon debt problem had arisen because bioenergy was "the easiest and cheapest compliance option," according to Nuša Urban&#269;i&#269;, the fuels programme manager for Transport and Environment, a green pressure group.

"Burning biomass can count towards your renewable energy oblications for 2020, and your Emissions Trading System [ETS] target, because it is considered a zero emissions technology," she told EurActiv.

Ironically, the higher the carbon price becomes, the greater the incentive to burn fuel from bioenergy, Urban&#269;i&#269; said.

"It is kind of like biofuels for transport in that it fits in the system," she added. "You don't have to change very much or bother with super smart grids, you just put the bioenergy in and burn it within your existing system."

Freedom of information

EurActiv obtained the draft JRC paper after submitting a Freedom of Information (FoI) request which was delayed for four months and finally reattributed to the energy directorate of the European Commission.

Previous requests for similar documents relating to indirect land use change (ILUC) studies for biofuels have also been stalled in similar ways.

With the new JRC report, EurActiv understands that some textual issues relating to the definition of the `carbon debt' concept remain unresolved. But the draft itself has substantially been finished and release is only being held up by copyright issues.

Even so, one official admitted that there had been "internal problems" with the document. The wider issue of sustainability criteria for bioenergy is being discussed at cabinet level, ahead of the submission of a new set of proposed rules by the EU's energy directorate.

These had been planned to go into inter-service consultation last week but were delayed, without explanation.

'Shoot first, aim later'

Some Brussels sources blame a perceived lack of transparency in Brussels on a tendency to mask the ways in which EU policy objectives can be set before the requisite scientific research has been conducted.

"The whole ILUC [in biofuels] story risks repeating itself with biomass," one told EurActiv.

"We have again a policy that shoots first and aims later," Urban&#269;i&#269; agreed.

One consequence might be found in the JRC paper's conclusion that if the consumption of wood materials – for pulp, paper, building and furniture - remains constant, but part of the harvested wood is diverted to bioenergy, "almost all of the contribution to the EU bioenergy policy would be covered by imported biomass."

Indeed, "supply would have to increase by 50% in the next twenty years" if wood is to help meet the EU's long-term renewable energy targets, the paper's authors say.

There are no agreed international carbon accounting rules for forest management. They are simply considered to be `carbon neutral' by the ETS and Kyoto Protocol alike.

This is exacerbated by the fact that within the EU "GHG emissions accounting is highly variable," according to the paper.

"Less than two-thirds of the member states account for forest management, only three for cropland and/or grazing land management and only one for vegetation."

Experts say that even if this carbon accounting were extended, it would still be ineffective for as long as the rules reward the creation of net carbon deficits under the EU's renewables policy.

In June, the European Commission proposed new harmonised guidelines to account for greenhouse gas emissions from forests and agriculture but these would not include sustainability criteria for bioenergy.

An EU source told EurActiv that "there are indications we can allow the use of biomass but first it must be regulated."

"Sustainability criteria must be taken into account," the source added.



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[biofuelwatch] Biofuel grasses spark criticism



Biofuel grasses spark criticism

Published: Oct. 23, 2012 at 7:37 AM

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2012/10/23/Biofuel-grasses-spark-criticism/UPI-81301350992244/#ixzz2ACN5MGe3

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Two grasses under consideration for biofuels in the United States are considered invasive species that may do more harm than good, critics say.

About 200 scientists from the ecological and wildlife communities called on the government to review certain crops that may be used for biofuels production. A letter sent to the White House said some of crops under consideration are viewed as invasive species.

"These invasive species already cost billions of dollars a year in the United States and are one of the primary threats to North America's native species and ecosystems," the letter states.

The United Nations last year warned that the increase use of biofuels could strain agriculture systems normally used for food. The Union of Concerned Scientists, in a 12-page report last week, found that biofuels produced from non-food crops, farm residues and waste products could become a major source of renewable energy, however.

The U.S. government is reviewing the potential for two grass types -- Arundo donax and napier grass -- used for biofuel production elsewhere in the world.




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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

[biofuelwatch] FW: EPA must not approve palm oil!






EPA must not approve palm oil! - Rettet den Regenwald e.V.
Rettet den Regenwald e.V.
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EPA must not approve palm oil!

Orang-utans lose their habitat because of the deforestation for palm oil

Dear friends of the rainforest,

The rainforests are the lungs of our planet and must be protected. Stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from bowing to lobbyist pressure to overturn their recent decision that palm oil should not be included in the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Next week an EPA delegation will visit a palm oil plantation on Sumatra island and then meet the Indonesian agriculture minister, Gamal Nasir. Among the victims of the deforestation for palm oil plantations in Indonesia are the helpless and endangered orang-utans.

Regarding this visit, it is extremely important to make the EPA aware of the environmental hazards caused by the cultivation of palm oil.

Please sign now and urge the EPA to not include palm oil in the federal renewable fuel standard:

TAKE ACTION  



Many thanks and best regards 


Reinhard Behrend
Rainforest Rescue (Rettet den Regenwald e.V.)

info@rainforest-rescue.org
www.rainforest-rescue.org
http://www.facebook.com/rainforest2rescue

Rainforest Rescue

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info@rainforest-rescue.org  •  www.rainforest-rescue.org

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