February 2008

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This page includes information on news and events in February 2008. (News and events are archived here at the end of the month.)

Events

News

  • Biofuel, Partly From Nuts, Is Tested on an Airline Flight, 25 February 2008, by the New York Times: "Virgin Atlantic Airways, the British carrier controlled by Richard Branson, tested a jumbo jet on Sunday that was partly powered by a biofuel made from babassu nuts and coconut oil, a first for a commercial aircraft."
    • "Virgin and G.E. tested a number of biofuels before choosing coconut and babassu because they were suitable in initial tests and would not compete with staple food supplies or cause deforestation, the airline said. Babassu nuts are harvested from palms by local workers from the Amazonian rain forest." The biofuel was supplied by US-based [www.imperiumrenewables.com/ Imperium Renewables].
    • Reactions to the experimental flight:
      • Time Magazine pointed out that only 5% of the total fuel was actually biofuels and that "if biofuel ever takes off in aviation, it will likely be a decade before it has any noticeable impact on industry emissions".[1]
      • Scientific American noted that "such biofuel may end up causing rather than curing climate change, according to recent studies. In addition, fuel from the world's limited supply of coconuts could drive up the price of the cooking oil as well as lead to further clearing of endangered rainforests in Southeast Asia for palm plantation expansion." While this was the first major aviation trial for biodiesel, SciAm notes that more than "1,000 crop dusters in Brazil" routinely fly using "100 percent ethanol". Algae is a more promising feedstock for aviation biodiesel, which may be viable in 10-20 years, according to a quoted Boeing expert.
  • Ethanol Demand in U.S. Adds to Food, Fertilizer Costs, 21 February 2008 by Bloomberg: "U.S. plans to replace 15 percent of gasoline consumption with crop-based fuels including ethanol are already leading to some unintended consequences as food prices and fertilizer costs increase....About 33 percent of U.S. corn will be used for fuel over the next decade, up from 11 percent in 2002, the Agriculture Department estimates."
    • "Increased demand for the grain helped boost food prices by 4.9 percent last year, the most since 1990, and will reduce global inventories of corn to the lowest in 24 years, government data show."
    • "Farmers will have to increase planting of corn for ethanol by 43 percent to 30 million acres by 2015 to meet the government's requirements, said Bill Nelson, a vice president at A.G. Edwards Inc. in St. Louis."
  • FAO unveils new bioenergy assessment tool - Weighs impact on food security, 8 February 2008, press release by FAO: "A decision-support tool developed by FAO will help ensure that countries can enter the rapidly growing field of bioenergy industry to produce benefits for the poor without jeopardizing their food security....The tool, an “analytical framework” designed by a team of economists...was unveiled at a two-day experts’ meeting of FAO’s Bioenergy and Food Security (BEFS) project."
    • "A prerequisite for running the framework is the establishment of a bioenergy development scenario....The analytical framework then makes it possible, through five steps, to assess: technical biomass potential; biomass production costs; the economic bioenergy potential; macro-economic consequences; national and household-level impact and consequences on food security."
    • "The framework will be field-tested in three countries – Peru, Thailand and Tanzania – before the analytical framework methodology is made available to the international community at large."
  • Italy's M&G to build bioethanol plant, 5 February 2008 from Reuters. "Italian chemical group Mossi & Ghisolfi, M&G, plans to build a 200,000-tonne bioethanol plant and convert it to using cellulose feedstock as pressure mounts on the sector to make more environment-friendly biofuels."
  • India to unveil bio-fuel policy in March , 1 February 2008 by Sify business, reports that India's government plans to issue a policy on biofuels in early March. The Biodiesel Industry Association says that "[F]armers are reluctant to undertake plantation of jatropha on a large scale to meet the feedstock requirement of bio-diesel plants in the absence of policy guidelines from the central government," and that facilities "are unable to run at their rated capacities due to feedstock shortage." Sources say that India has thirty million hectares of unused land that is suitable for jatropha and other crops for biofuels.




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