March 2011

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Bioenergy > Timeline > 2011 > March 2011


This page includes information on News and Events in March 2011.

  • (News and events are archived here after the end of the month.)

Events

News

  • Boeing study: Biofuel shows ‘significant potential’, 31 March 2011 by Puget Sound Business Journal: "Boeing Co. said a study of using the jatropha-curcas plant as biofuel showed 'significant potential.'"
    • "Researchers studied the environmental and other benefits of the jatropha, an oil-producing and non-edible plant found in Mexico and Central America."
    • "'The study shows that, if cultivated properly, jatropha can deliver strong environmental and socioeconomic benefits in Latin America and greenhouse gas reductions of up to 60 percent when compared to petroleum-based jet fuel,' Boeing said in a statement."[1]
  • Sustainable Biofuel Crops Project - Final Scientific and Progress Report (PDF File), 31 March 2011 by Conservation International: "The three-year Sustainable Biofuel Crops Project...was launched in early 2008" supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. The overall goal of the project was to support the development of a sustainable global biofuels industry by ensuring that biofuel crop production is not a threat to biodiversity."
    • "The Sustainable Biofuel Crops Project included three components...and was implemented by teams working in the U.S., Brazil, Indonesia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Suriname."
    • "Major achievements of the Sustainable Biofuel Crops Project include:"
      • "[A]nalysis of areas of risk, and opportunity, for feedstock production...[in relation to] areas of importance for carbon sequestration and storage, water provisioning, biodiversity conservation, and staple food production".
      • Launch of the "Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) for Business website, which provides key decision-makers access to critical information on biodiversity priority sites to inform the decision-making processes and address any potential biodiversity impacts."
      • "[A] carbon stock assessment, ecosystem services study, and biodiversity survey in and around a protected peat swamp surrounded by areas zoned for oil palm".
    • "These results, and others outlined in the full report, have helped fill a critical need for data and information to facilitate good decisions on biofuel feedstock production, and models of successful strategies to produce feedstocks more sustainably on the ground."
    • Download the report, Sustainable Biofuel Crops Project - Final Scientific and Progress Report (PDF File)
  • Indigenous community takes court ruling into own hands and seizes oil palm plantation, 31 March 2011 by Mongabay.com: "A community in Malaysian Borneo seized an oil palm plantation belonging to the IOI Group after the palm oil giant failed to respect the terms of a court ruling that the plantation was established on native customary land, reports the Rainforest Action Network (RAN)."
    • "Earlier this month, the people of Long Teran Kenan blocked the road and occupied the plantation. They have since started harvesting and selling the fruit to a nearby palm oil mill."
    • "RAN is highlighting the situation because IOI supplies palm oil to Cargill, America's largest palm oil importer. RAN says Cargill has failed to enact policies that protect against such abuses."
    • "IOI said the High Court of Sarawak did not grant 'the natives' the right to reclaim the contested land and added that the natives' customary rights on the land "can be extinguished by paying compensation." IOI further stated that the court 'did not grant any injunctions sought by the natives restraining IOI Pelita from remaining and continuing its operations on the lands.' Therefore IOI believes the actions by the people of Long Teran Kenan are 'illegal.'"[2]
  • Norway to continue palm oil investments, 30 March 2011 by MongaBay.com: "Norway's $550 billion sovereign wealth fund will continue investing in Asian palm oil companies despite criticism from environmental groups, reports Reuters."
    • "Runar Malkenes, Deputy Director of the Information Division at Norway's Ministry of Finance, told Reuters that while the fund will continue to invest in the sector, it may exclude palm oil companies that cause egregious environmental damage."
    • "Last year Norway divested its holdings in Samling, a Malaysian company associated with destructive logging practices and social conflict with indigenous groups in Malaysian Borneo."
    • "The fund, which invests revenues from the country's oil and gas industry, held 2.4 billion Norwegian crowns ($430 million) worth of palm oil-related stocks as of the end of last year."
    • "Norway's statement comes a week after Indonesian activist group Greenomics criticized Norway for continuing to hold stakes in several palm oil companies linked to deforestation, including Golden Agri Resources (GAR), which owns PT Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology (SMART], a firm that had been targeted for Greenpeace over destruction of rainforests and peatlands in Borneo."[4]
  • China biofuel policy may be in conflict with food security objectives, 28 March 2011 by Platts.com: "The United States Department of Agriculture says China's food security objectives may clash with its energy independence and environmental objectives, limiting the development of biofuels, according to the latest publication by the US International Trade Commission."
    • "Like wheat, the Chinese government views corn as important for national food security and provides support for domestic corn growers by guaranteeing prices for domestic corn from state-owned enterprises and by providing subsidized seed, while controlling exports to ensure that corn is available for domestic use. But strong demand, coupled with poor production in 2009-2010 led China to import around 1.5 million mt of US corn and in 2010, China became a net corn importer."
    • "According to the report, China has been making an effort to move away from grain-based ethanol production and into alternative feedstocks. Until May 2006, government subsidies were limited to fuel ethanol, at which time the central government outlined the creation of a special fund to encourage the development of renewable energy resources, including ethanol and biodiesel."
    • "China's National Reform and Development Commission asserts that targeted biofuel production will not threaten China's grain security, but feedstock sources may be expanded to include sugar, oilseeds, sweet sorghum, wheat, and cassava, resulting in higher imports of these feedstocks."[5]
  • Biofuels Policy May Kill 200,000 Per Year in the Third World, 28 March 2011 by PR Newswire: "U.S. and European policy to increase production of ethanol and other biofuels to displace fossil fuels is supposed to help human health by reducing 'global warming.' Instead it has added to the global burden of death and disease."
    • "Increased production of biofuels increases the price of food worldwide by diverting crops and cropland from feeding people to feeding motor vehicles. Higher food prices, in turn, condemn more people to chronic hunger and 'absolute poverty'".
    • "Research by the World Bank indicates that the increase in biofuels production over 2004 levels would push more than 35 million additional people into absolute poverty in 2010 in developing countries. Using statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Indur Goklany estimates that this would lead to at least 192,000 excess deaths per year, plus disease resulting in the loss of 6.7 million disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) per year. These exceed the estimated annual toll of 141,000 deaths and 5.4 million lost DALYs that the World Health Organization attributes to global warming....Goklany also notes that death and disease from poverty are a fact, whereas death and disease from global warming are hypothetical.
    • "His analysis is published in the spring 2011 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons".[6]
    • Download the paper, Could Biofuel Policies Increase Death and Disease in Developing Countries? (PDF file).
  • Palm oil giants target Africa in 'land grab' following Indonesia deforestation ban, 25 March 2011 by The Ecologist: "The world's largest palm oil producer Indonesia is due to implement a two-year ban on granting new concessions of land to plantation companies in forest areas."
    • "There are also restrictions on the availability of land in Malaysia. This has led companies like Sime Darby, which has more than half a million hectares of palm oil in Indonesia and Malaysia, to look elsewhere."
    • "Sime Darby - reported to be the largest palm oil producer in the world - has leased 220,000 hectares of land in Liberia and is considering buying a further 300,000 hectares for palm oil plantations in Cameroon."
    • "Other rival palm oil giants like Sinar Mar, Olam International and Wilmar International are also tying up land deals in Liberia, Gabon and Ghana."
    • "In Cameroon, campaigners have admitted to having strong reservations about Sime Darby's plans to lease land for palm oil plantations. Samuel Nguiffo, from the Centre for Environment and Development (CED), says even if they only develop on degraded forest, the deal is likely to involve farmland being taken away from local communities."
    • "Nguiffo believes the land has more value in terms of sustaining local livelihood but says the government will push hard for a deal, regardless of the long-term consequences for the country's food security."[7]
  • Renewable Fuels Agency closes, 25 March 2011 by 24dash.com: "The agency tasked with regulating biofuels entering the UK market and encouraging their sustainability will close its doors for the last time next week."
    • "On Thursday, 31 March the Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) will be dissolved as part of a wider review of arms-length government bodies. Its duties will be transferred to the Department for Transport."
    • "In its brief history, the Renewable Fuels Agency has been responsible for several achievements that went beyond good practice and set the scene for a more sustainable supply of biofuels."
    • "Above all, it has established a system allowing the provenance of fuels to be tracked from farm to fuel supplier."
    • "It has delivered real, demonstrable changes in the procurement policy of major oil companies leading to better environmental and social outcomes – many of the obligated suppliers’ annual sustainability reports outline how they have been influenced by the RTFO with some reporting real changes to their biofuel strategy in response to the regulation or conversations with the RFA."
    • "It has produced the figures that back up the assumption that there are good biofuels and bad biofuels – its regular reports cut through the background chatter and allow comparison of feedstocks based on facts rather than opinion."[8]
  • Swedes eye budding biofuels industry, 25 March 2011 by Mmegi Online: "The Swedish government and its private sector are hoping to secure a foothold in Botswana's nascent biofuels industry that kicked off recently with plans for a five million-litre per annum processing plant."
    • "Specifically, the Swedes hope to be involved in jatropha research, the "wonder plant" whose cultivation and oil are expected to fuel the processing plant government plans to purchase this year."
    • "According to the MoU, the Scandinavian nation is also interested in biodiesel production from animal fat and biogas production from cow dung."
    • "The Swedes also hope to cooperate with Botswana in the development of strategies on energy efficiency for the transport sector, as well as on renewable energies and biomass - the renewable energy from biological material."
    • "Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) CEO, Jacob Raleru, stressed that the country's energy policy requires 25 percent of all electricity to be from solar power by 2030."[9]
  • Recent developments of biofuels/bioenergy sustainability certification: A global overview , March 2011 by ScienceDirect:
    • From the abstract: "A large number of national and international initiatives lately experienced rapid development in the view of the biofuels and bioenergy targets announced in the European Union, United States and other countries worldwide. The main certification initiatives are analysed in detail, including certification schemes for crops used as feedstock for biofuels, the various initiatives in the European Union, United States and globally, to cover biofuels and/or biofuels production and use....Certification has the potential to influence positively direct environmental and social impact of bioenergy production. Key recommendations to ensure sustainability of biofuels/bioenergy through certification include the need of an international approach and further harmonisation, combined with additional measures for global monitoring and control. The effects of biofuels/bioenergy production on indirect land use change (ILUC) is still very uncertain; addressing the unwanted ILUC requires sustainable land use planning and adequate monitoring tools such as remote sensing, regardless of the end-use of the product."[10]
  • Kenya biofuel project opposed, 23 March 2011 by AFP: "The Kenyan franchise of Italy's Nuove Iniziative Industriali is planning to farm 50,000 hectares of jatropha near Malindi, a seaside tourist resort in southern Kenya."
    • "'Taking into account the emissions produced throughout the production and consumption process... jatropha would emit between 2.5 and six times more greenhouse gases,' said ActionAid, Nature Kenya and the British Royal Society for the Protection of Birds."
    • "The groups said the project is driven by commercial interests in Europe where the European Union has set a target to produce 10 percent of transport energy from biofuels by 2020."
    • "The United Nations Environment Programme said in 2009 that jatropha can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions if grown on degraded land, but can also be carbon intensive if its farming entails land use changes."[11]
  • Biofuel policy is causing starvation, says Nestlé boss, 23 March 2011 by The Independent: "Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the chairman of Nestlé, lashed out at the Obama administration for promoting the use of ethanol made from corn, at the expense of hundreds of millions of people struggling to afford everyday basics made from the crop."
    • "'Today, 35 per cent of US corn goes into biofuel,' the Nestlé chairman told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York yesterday. 'From an environmental point of view this is a nonsense, but more so when we are running out of food in the rest of the world.'"
    • Corn prices almost doubled in the year to February, though they have fallen from their peak in the pastfew weeks."
    • "US exports account for about 60 per cent of the world's corn supply. Demand has surged as more people join the middle classes in emerging economies such as China and India, not just because these new consumers demand more food made from corn, but also because demand for meat has increased and livestock farmers need to buy more feed."
    • "The lobbying has fallen on deaf ears in the US, however. Ethanol production from corn is heavily subsidised, with output running at more than 13.5 billion gallons annually."[12]
  • Joint Statement on the Launch of the Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels Certification System, 22 March 2011 by Conservation International: "As international environmental organizations, we welcome the launch of the new RSB [(Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels)] certification system (http://rsb.epfl.ch/), as we believe that it is crucial for biofuels to be produced in a way that is consistent with sustainable land use choices and natural resource management, contributing to both positive economic and social development."
    • "Our organizations contributed to the RSB process, along with more than 100 organizations from over 40 countries, participating in the development of its principles and criteria, and the associated certification system. We feel that the stakeholder engagement process followed by the RSB, which followed ISEAL Alliance code of conduct for standard-setting process, enhanced the credibility and value of the RSB standard and certification system."
    • "Regulators should also recognize this initiative and ensure that economic operators using this standard benefit from the various incentives for sustainable biofuels. To this effect, we would like to call on all relevant economic operators to make commitments with regards to the production or procurement of RSB certified biofuels to facilitate the adoption of the standard."[14]
  • International sustainable biofuels certification system unveiled, 22 March 2011 by Biodiesel Magazine: "The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels launched the first global third-party certification system for sustainable biofuels March 22. The RSB Certification System includes environmental, social and economic principles and criteria and features a unique set of online tools aimed at taking the complexity out of compliance and streamlining certification."
    • "'It’s one thing to say your product is sustainable and another to prove it,' said Barbara Bramble, Senior Advisor for the International Climate and Energy Program at the National Wildlife Federation. 'This new system makes it easy to differentiate between biofuels that are environmentally destructive and biofuels that deliver on the promise of sustainability.'"
    • "The certification system covers the major issues of concern in biofuels’ production, including their contribution to climate change mitigation and rural development; their protection of land and labor rights; and their impacts on biodiversity, soil and water pollution, water availability and food security."
    • "The certification system will be operated by RSB Services, which is the business arm of the RSB, providing access to the certification process, licensing, and auditors’ training among other activities."[15]
  • Palm oil company gives up land contested by local communities as part of sustainability pledge, 21 March 2011 by MongaBay.com: "The company PT Agro Wiratama, a subsidiary of the Musim Mas group, will give 1,000 hectares of its 9,000 hectare concession in West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) back to the community. The decision is a direct result of Agro Wiratama's RSPO membership, which now requires member companies to publicly announce plans to expand their operations."
    • "Until now, palm oil expansion has at times resulted in social conflict between traditional forest users — often indigenous people and small-scale farmers — and companies granted concessions by the government (most forest land is state-owned in Indonesia, independently of who actually uses it)."
    • "Forest Peoples Programme, together with Gemawan, note that Agro Wiratama's decision has implications for other palm oil companies operating in Sambas Regency: 17 of them are members of RSPO."
    • "More than 3,000 land conflicts between palm oil developers and local communities in Indonesia have been registered with the country's National Land Agency."
    • "With more than 8 million hectares of oil palm plantations, Indonesia accounts for more than 40 percent of global palm oil production. But expansion has had a high environmental cost: millions of hectares of forest and peatland have been cleared in the name of palm oil production."[16]
  • Evidence of indirect land-use change is clear, says report, 21 March 2011 by Transport & Environment: "A report by Germany’s Öko Institut says there is sufficient scientific knowledge for the EU to include the effects of indirect land use change (Iluc) in its sustainability criteria to determine which biofuels will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The report was commissioned by the European Parliament’s environment committee, and puts further pressure on the Commission to include ILUC in its assessment of policy options on biofuels due to be published in July."
    • "The report was presented to MEPs earlier this month, and criticises December’s decision by the Commission to delay incorporating Iluc until it has more evidence about its effects. Iluc is the syndrome by which growing crops for biofuels triggers displacement of existing food or feed production to nature areas, which in many cases leads to higher emissions from biofuels than from the production of conventional fuels."
    • "The Öko Institut says the only viable option for assessing the environmental performance of biofuels is to have feedstock-specific Iluc factors. This would directly link the production of biofuels to its effect on food production."[17]
  • Biofuel From Algae Could Compete With Oil, Report Says, 16 March 2011 by Mother Nature Network: "Biofuels made from algae can be produced in a way that make this energy source cost-competitive with crude oil by increasing the amount of energy algae stores as fat, according to early research from VG Energy, an alternative energy and agricultural biotech company."
    • "The resulting biodiesel and algae-based jet fuels could be produced at a cost of $94 per barrel, well below the current crude oil price of above $100 a barrel."
    • "It’s all based on a technique developed by Viral Genetics researcher Dr. Karen Newell-Rogers."
    • Newell-Rogers has been developing molecular techniques “to disrupt tumor metabolism to prevent them from burning fat reserves, making them more susceptible to chemotherapy and radiation.” The same switch could force the algae to store energy as fat, which could then be extracted as algal oil."
    • "The technique increased production of extractable lipid, or fat, by at least 300 percent when applied in the lab. The fat was stored outside the cell walls, making it easier to extract without first killing the algae."[18]
  • OriginOil’s Algae Biofuel Gets Ready for U.S. Market, 16 March 2011 by TriplePundit.com: "OriginOil, is taking steps to fast-track its algae biofuel out of development and into commercial use."
    • "One barrier to large scale algae biofuel farming is the need for a significant amount of land and water."
    • "OriginOil’s algae growing system, called the MultiReactor, uses lenses to channel solar radiation through relatively deep layers of algae. That reduces the surface area of the growing pond, which minimizes the environmental impacts of conventional algae farming."
    • "OriginOil has also developed a system to overcome another hurdle, which is the large amount of energy required to extract oil from algae through conventional technologies. The company’s Single-Step Extraction method uses energy to “crack” the algae, and then oil, water and algae biomass are separated by gravity."[19]
  • CO2 emissions from biomass combustion, 16 March 2011 by EurekAlert: "An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology Bioenergy proposes a new method to account for CO2 emissions from biomass combustion in bioenergy systems."
    • "CO2 emissions resulting from bioenergy production have traditionally been excluded from most emission inventories and environmental impact studies because bioenergy is carbon- and climate- neutral as long as CO2 emissions from biofuel combustion are sequestered by growing biomass."
    • "The authors propose that CO2 emissions from biomass combustion for bioenergy should no longer be excluded from Life Cycle Assessment studies or be assumed to have the same global warming potential as anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Carbon dioxide is emitted when biomass is burnt and the sequestration in the new vegetation can be spread for up to several decades in the case of slow-growing biomass, like forests."
    • "The authors believe that the global warming potential of CO2 emissions from bioenergy production depends on the interactions with the full carbon cycle and its sinks, the oceans and the terrestrial biosphere, which work on different time scales."[20]
  • IEA Bioenergy Annual Report Highlights Algal Biofuels Status and Prospects, 16 March 2011 by IISD Reporting Services: "The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) IEA Bioenergy has released its 'IEA Bioenergy 2010 Annual Report,' with a special feature on 'Algal Biofuels Status and Prospects.'"
    • "The special feature emphasizes that despite recent enthusiasm over these biofuels, they remain at a pre-commercial ‘proof of concept’ phase, although they warrant investment in further research, development and demonstration. Of the production methods reviewed, authors found that photobioreactors are generally more costly than raceway pond algae production facilities....[T]he report concludes that algal biofuels are unlikely to be able to displace a large fraction of liquid fossil fuels."[21]
    • Download the IEA Bioenergy 2010 Annual Report
  • Finding Homes for Biofuels Alongside the Beaten Path, 15 March 2011 by DomesticFuel.com: "While biofuels development and production have been a bit different, some of the latest efforts to find room to grow non-food feedstocks for biofuels are being found alongside the beaten path."
    • "we’re talking about using areas, such as ditches and medians along the nation’s highways, as good spots to grow the raw materials to keep the cars and trucks running on those highways."
    • "The USDA is looking at switch grass and three different oilseeds crops, chosen also for safety factors, such as wildlife mitigation and sight hazards."
    • "It’s estimated that there’s 10 million acres of available land just alongside our roads that have good potential for growing biofuel feedstocks."[22]
  • World at risk of another food crisis: FAO, 14 March 2011 by Reuters: "A jump in oil prices and the fast recent drawdown in global stocks of cereals could herald a supply crisis, FAO Director General Jacques Diouf told Reuters in an interview during a visit to the United Arab Emirates."
    • "'The high prices raise concern and we've been quickly drawing down stocks,' he said. 'For years we have warned that what is needed is more productivity and investment in agriculture.'"
    • "February's UN Food Price Index rose for the eighth consecutive month, to the highest levels since at least 1990. Every commodity group except sugar rose last month."
    • "The FAO has asked developed countries to re-examine their biofuels strategies -- which include large subsidies -- since these have diverted 120 million tonnes of cereals away from human consumption to convert them to fuels."
    • "Avoiding another food crisis hinges on crop yields in the next harvest season, as well as how economic growth impacts demand, Diouf said. But he also said rising food prices and oil prices could have a detrimental effect on growth."[23]
  • Okla. St. professor turns soda waste into ethanol, 14 March 2011 by Business Week: "Biosystems and agricultural engineering associate professor Danielle Bellmer said that by adjusting the pH levels she has found that the leftover materials from soda manufacturing can be converted into ethanol."
    • "By adding a nitrogen source and Superstart, a common dry yeast, Bellmer and her students discovered it took anywhere from three to 10 days, depending on the amount of yeast added and the temperature, for the soda's sugar to ferment into ethanol."
    • "About 6 to 7 percent alcohol is converted from the 12 to 13 percent sugar found in one two-liter soda bottle, Bellmer said."[24]
  • McDonald's Commits to 100% Certified Palm Oil By 2015, 11 March 2011 by SustainableBusiness.com: "McDonald's Corporation has committed to source only palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) by 2015."
    • "The commitment is part of a larger Sustainable Land Management Commitment (SLMC) announced in conjunction with the release of McDonald's 2010 Worldwide Corporate Responsibility (CR) Report."
    • "The SLMC requires that, over time, McDonald's suppliers will only use agricultural raw materials for the company's food and packaging that originate from sustainably-managed land."
    • "McDonald's actions initially will be focused on five raw material priorities - Beef, Poultry, Coffee, Palm Oil and Packaging."
    • "McDonald's also joined the Sustainability Consortium--an independent organization dedicated to implementing measurable progress based on life-cycle science."[25]
  • New era dawns for mini synfuels, 11 March 2011 by Mail and Guardian Online: "South African technology, already demonstrated in Australia and China, is being used to generate liquid fuel from coal and gas but can also be used to make fuel from biomass, including municipal waste."
    • "Advances in the development of synthetic fuel by the University of the Witwatersrand's Centre of Materials and Process Synthesis (Comps) mean that smaller modular plants, which can produce both fuel and electricity, can do so while releasing 30% less CO2."
    • "The creation of fuel from biomass through a further application of the technology means municipal garbage dumps and landfills could become energy stores instead of expensive problems for future generations."
    • "The process, put simply, works as follows: coal is converted into gas, mainly carbon monoxide and hydrogen, through what is known as gasification. This gas is then converted into liquid fuel through the Fischer-Tropsch process, named after German scientists Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch, who invented it in the 1920s."
    • "Similarly, gas to liquids (GTL) converts natural gas to liquids and biomass to liquids (BTL) sees the gasification of waste, and the resultant gases are then converted to fuel."[26]
  • Bioenergy crops could lower surface temperatures, 11 March 2011 by R&D Magazine: "Converting large swaths of farmland to perennial grasses for biofuels could lower regional surface temperatures, according to a recent Stanford [University] study."
    • "The study, published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), comes on the heels of federal initiatives to wean the United States off fossil fuels by mandating significant increases in ethanol production. The Department of Agriculture forecasts that by 2018, more than one-third of the country's corn harvest will be used to produce ethanol."
    • "But concerns about the impact of corn ethanol on food prices, deforestation, and global warming have raised interest in the cultivation of perennial grasses—such as switchgrass—as alternative sources of biofuel."
    • "'We've shown that planting perennial bioenergy crops can lower surface temperatures by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit locally, averaged over the entire growing season,' said study co-author David Lobell, assistant professor of environmental Earth system science and a center fellow at Stanford's Program on Food Security and the Environment."
    • "In the study, Lobell and his colleagues used a computer simulation to forecast the climatic effects of converting farmland in the Midwest from annual crops—like corn and soybeans—to perennial grasses. The results showed that large-scale perennial cultivation in the 12-state area would pump significantly more water from the soil to the atmosphere, producing enough water vapor to cool the local surface temperature by 1.8 F."[27]
  • Midwest senators strike back with pro-biofuels bill, 11 March 2011 by Ethanol Producer Magazine: "Two Midwest senators proposed legislation March 10 favoring the build-out of biofuels infrastructure and continued federal support of ethanol and biodiesel. The Securing America’s Future with Energy and Sustainable Technologies Act, introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Tim Johnson, D-S.D., would establish incentives for biofuels infrastructure and deployment, develop a 'more cost-effective' tax credit program for ethanol and biodiesel, establish a renewable energy standard and encourage greater production of hybrid, electric and flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs)."
    • "The bill immediately received widespread support from renewable fuels and agriculture groups."
    • "The 117-page SAFEST Act covers a wide spectrum of renewable fuels interests and contains several important provisions related to the ethanol industry. It amends the definition of 'advanced biofuel' to include corn starch-derived ethanol....It attempts to eliminate liability concerns related to the use of ethanol in combustion engines. It also provides subsidies for the installation of blender pumps and requires any entity that owns or manages 10 or more retail fueling stations to install a blender pump at each station."
    • "The legislation also includes text that would prevent the U.S. EPA from considering international indirect land use changes when calculating biofuels’ lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and calls for the National Academies of Science to conduct a review of methodologies used to project indirect GHG emissions relating to transportation fuels."[28]
  • Feinstein introduces bill repealing VEETC for corn-based ethanol , 10 March 2011 by Oil Price Information Service: "In a move that she believes would save taxpayers $3 billion in the first six months of implementation, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would repeal the 45ct/gal ethanol tax credit for corn-based ethanol and lower the 54ct/gal ethanol import tariff to match the tax credit."
    • "'Ethanol is the only industry that benefits from a triple crown of government intervention: its use is mandated by law, it is protected by tariffs and companies are paid by the federal government to use it,' said Feinstein. 'It's time we end this practice once and for all."
    • "The bill takes a different direction than the proposal introduced yesterday by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), which would immediately repeal the ethanol tax credit. Feinstein's bill (S.530), co-sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), would eliminate the ethanol tax credit by June 30 only for corn-based ethanol. According to the bill text, after June 30, the tax credit would only be available to ethanol which qualifies as an advanced biofuel as defined by section 211(o) of the Clean Air Act."
    • "Ethanol groups roundly criticized Feinstein's bill. 'This does nothing to help our nation reduce its dependence on foreign oil,' said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis."
    • "U.S. ethanol advocates have always described the 54ct/gal import tariff as essential to offset the U.S. ethanol tax incentive, otherwise foreign producers could bring in product and take advantage of the same tax incentive as U.S. producers. However, that description no longer jibes, as the tax credit was reduced in the 2008 farm bill from 51cts/gal to 45cts/gal, but the import tariff was kept at the same amount."[29]
  • Environmental groups object to biomass plant, 9 March 2011 by iStockAnalyst/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Critics of a biomass power plant proposed by We Energies and Domtar Corp. say the project shouldn't qualify for a [Wisconsin] environmental permit because it will lead to higher emissions of greenhouse gases."
    • "The We Energies project is the first biomass plant, and one of the first three projects in the country, to be reviewed under new greenhouse gas rules enacted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."
    • "It doesn't make sense to issue a permit for the project because it would add emissions of carbon dioxide at a rate much higher than a natural gas-fueled power plant, said Mary Booth, an ecologist who is researching biomass projects for a national coalition called the Partnership for Policy Integrity."
    • "The proposal is being closely watched by the industry because it is one of the first to be issued. It also comes at an unusual time, because the EPA is considering backing off on carbon regulation for biomass power plants."
    • "Cost concerns led to the cancellation of Xcel Energy Corp.'s proposed biomass power plant in Ashland and led to [Governor] Walker's decision to cancel a proposed biomass plant to serve the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus."[30]
  • Summit to tackle E10 biofuel debacle held, 8 March 2011 by The Local: "Berlin is working to implement a European Union directive that says biofuels should make up 10 percent of EU vehicle fuel consumption by 2020 to make the continent less dependent on foreign supplies."
    • "The new E10 petrol contains 10 percent biofuel made from crops and has been sold at German filling stations since last month."
    • "But many drivers have spurned E10 because they fear damage to their motors even though the VDA auto federation says it is suitable for 93 percent of petrol-driven vehicles."
    • "'Some drivers buy E10, but 'no more than 10 percent,' Tomas Gloos,a petrol-station manager, told AFP, and 'most of them do so without knowing it.'"
    • "While the oil industry has been accused of providing little information on the new fuel, environmental associations have slammed it for poor results in carbon dioxide emission tests."
    • "They note also that biofuels require farmland that could be used to raise crops for food, putting pressure on prices that are now attracting consumers' attention."[31]
  • Indian bio-fuel project to generate 25,000 jobs in Ghana, 8 March 2011 by Sify.com: "An Indian company has launched a clean energy project in Ghana that will help power over 100,000 homes and generate over 25,000 jobs in the west African country."
    • "Abellon CleanEnergy Limited intends to produce solid bio-fuels for export as well as set up energy plantations, says Pragnesh Mishra, the company's representative in Ghana."
    • "Officials of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Accra said the project was an initiative of the Business Call to Action (BCtA), a worldwide initiative to support the private sector in its efforts to fight poverty."
    • "But as Abellon prepares to take off, it looks like the company would have to contend with complaints by ActionAid Ghana that biofuel companies were grabbing lands from farmers all over the country."[32]
  • Computer Model Charts Environmental, Economic Impacts of Biomass, 7 March 2011 by Duke University Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions: "A computer model created by a Duke University researcher, in partnership with North Carolina State University, provides a detailed visual representation of how woody biomass could be used to meet renewable energy targets in the South."
    • "The model is intended for use by a specialist audience familiar with biomass terminology to help inform the debate surrounding the renewable energy source."
    • "The tool uses a timber forecasting model developed at N.C. State that runs data from the U.S. Forest Service to provide state-specific results for the Carolinas and Georgia. Users can customize factors including the type of biomass intended for use—whole trees or forest debris—in 140 scenarios for each of the three states. The results not only reveal a scenario's ability to meet renewable energy and fuel targets, but also display a more detailed, graphical representation of everything from the effect on forest carbon to forested acres."
    • "For access to the white paper, model and a short video tutorial on how to use it, visit: http://www.nicholasinstitute.duke.edu/events/Biomass-Model/."[33]
  • US Navy steams towards biofuels, 7 March 2011 by Carbon Positive: "The latest spike in global oil prices has renewed the US Navy’s resolve to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels with a big shift to biofuels."
    • "Last week it passed $100 a barrel again as the contagion of political unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa, particularly Libya, hits supply - at a time when global economic recovery has seen demand rising."
    • "Last year, the US Navy announced a target to reduce fossil fuel reliance to 50 per cent of all its energy needs, from around 83 per cent at the time. Nuclear sources account for much of the remainder. The aim is to substitute large volumes of ship diesel and aviation fuel with biofuels, supplemented by power from wind and solar sources."[34]
  • Race for better biofuels heats up, 7 March 2011 by MSNBC.com: "Scientists who engineer microbes to efficiently produce biofuels from plants and algae are busy reporting breakthroughs that could wean us from fossil fuels — offering a glimmer of hope to consumers eyeing gas prices skyrocket."
    • "In one breakthrough, a microbe has been genetically engineered to produce isobutanol, a gasoline-like fuel, directly from cellulose."
    • "The promise of butanol as a biofuel is spurring several researchers to genetically optimize microbes to produce it. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley reported March 2 a genetically engineered strain of E. coli that produces n-butanol at rate that is 10 times better than competing systems."
    • "In addition, James Liao, vice chair of chemical and biomolecluar engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, and his team published research on Sunday in the journal Nature Biotechnology describing a method for producing biofuels where "we use proteins instead of cellulose, sugars, or lipids," he told me."
    • "To do this, the team changed the metabolic pathways in E. coli so that they efficiently remove nitrogen from groups of amino acids — the building blocks of proteins — to produce alcohols, which are converted to biofuels."[35]
  • BESC scores a first with isobutanol directly from cellulose, 7 March 2011 by Oak Ridge National Laboratory: "Using consolidated bioprocessing, a team led by James Liao of the University of California at Los Angeles for the first time produced isobutanol directly from cellulose."
    • "Compared to ethanol, higher alcohols such as isobutanol are better candidates for gasoline replacement because they have an energy density, octane value and Reid vapor pressure - a measurement of volatility - that is much closer to gasoline, Liao said."
    • "To make the conversion possible, Liao and postdoctoral researcher Wendy Higashide of UCLA and Yongchao Li and Yunfeng Yang of Oak Ridge National Laboratory had to develop a strain of Clostridium cellulolyticum, a native cellulose-degrading microbe, that could synthesize isobutanol directly from cellulose."
    • ""In nature, no microorganisms have been identified that possess all of the characteristics necessary for the ideal consolidated bioprocessing strain, so we knew we had to genetically engineer a strain for this purpose," Li said."[36]
  • Climate change, biofuels threaten food security-FAO, 7 March 2011 by Scientific American: "Climate change bringing floods and drought, growing biofuel demand and national policies to protect domestic markets could drive up global food prices and threaten long-term food security, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization said."
    • "The Rome-based FAO has already warned food-producing countries against introducing export curbs to protect local markets as world food prices push further above the levels that triggered deadly riots in 2007/2008."
    • "The number of hungry people could fall by 100-150 million people if women farmers were given the same access to production and financial resources as men, the agency said."
    • "Farm output in developing countries could rise by 2.5-4.0 percent if yields on the land farmed by women increased to the levels achieved by men. That in turn would reduce the global number of undernourished people by 12-17 percent."[37]
  • Counting the carbon cost of peatland conversion, 7 March 2011 by Nature News: "Up to 6% of carbon-rich peat-swamp forests had been cleared in Peninsular Malaysia and on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra to make way for oil-palm plantations by the early 2000s, according to a study published today. The clearances, a response to rising demand for food and biofuel, released as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the entire UK transport sector does in a year."
    • "Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study is the first attempt to systematically assign a value to the carbon loss due to peatland destruction in Southeast Asia that can be attributed directly to conversion to oil-palm plantations."
    • "Malaysia and Indonesia (which includes Sumatra and parts of Borneo) are the world's largest suppliers of palm oil, accounting for 87% of global production in 2008."
    • "Like most forests, peat-swamp forests store large amounts of carbon above ground as biomass, and this is lost when the forest is cleared. They also store large amounts of carbon in their soils, as dead organic matter decomposes slowly under marshy conditions. Draining peatlands to create agricultural land oxidizes the soil and releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."
    • "For the first 25 years after an oil-palm plantation is established in a peat-swamp forest, about 60 tonnes of carbon dioxide are released per hectare every year, according to recent research."[38]
  • The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels kicks off its certification system at WBM 2011!
    • The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels launches its global certification system for business during World Biofuels Market 2011, Europe’s largest Biofuels Congress & Exhibition.
    • Join us on March 23 in Rotterdam to learn about how the RSB certification system provides the assurances you need to guarantee the sustainability and traceability of your feedstocks and fuels. The RSB can put you on a path towards compliance and certification for EU market access.
    • The RSB is a multi-stakeholder initiative hosted by the Energy Center of EPFL that has developed a global sustainability standard and certification system for biofuel production, based on years of consultation and consensus among hundreds of stakeholders worldwide, and broad support from industry, NGOs and civil society.
    • Please join us at the WBM 2011 for this kickoff event of the RSB global certification system! It will take place on March 23. No registration needed.
    • Venue: Tokyo Room - World Biofuels Markets (Beurs-WTC Congress Center).
    • Time: Session 1 - 14.00 | Session 2 - 16.15 (same content).
  • Vilsack: US Farms Producing Enough for Food & Biofuels, 6 March 2011 by DomesticFuel.com: "Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says American farmers are producing enough to provide the food AND fuel, in particular ethanol and biodiesel, this country needs."
    • "Vilsack took the blame for food price increases off the American farmers and biofuels industry and put it on a more likely culprit."
    • "'I think OPEC has more to do with food price increases than farmers,' pointing out that even if you doubled the price of commodities, farmers, with their paltry 20 cents of every food dollar share, wouldn’t see much of an increase in their pocketbooks."[39]
  • The energy emperor's ethanol wardrobe looks mighty bare , 6 March 2011 by Washington Examiner: "Anyone looking at the ethanol subsidy program should be reminded of the childhood story of the emperor's new clothes."
    • "While those who support the program put forth various reasons for their support -- that ethanol will reduce greenhouse gases or curb our reliance on foreign oil -- in reality, it is merely a wealth transfer program from the general taxpayer to corn producers."
    • "If we admitted that, and just gave corn producers a check, we would be better off. We would avoid the misallocation of resources and the unintended consequences of the current program, such as higher food prices, that are a result of making the subsidy indirect rather than direct."
    • "The environmental reasons for using ethanol are at best controversial. Former Vice President Al Gore has recently said about the ethanol subsidy, 'It is not good to have these massive subsidies.' Producing ethanol from corn and distributing it emits more greenhouse gases than producing gasoline from crude oil and distributing it."
    • "If the use of corn ethanol were economically efficient, the ethanol industry would not need subsidies, taxes on the use of competitive fuels, and a government requirement that its product be used."[40]
  • Chaos at the Pumps - German Consumers Are Wary of New E10 Biofuel, 4 March 2011 by Der Spiegel: "Germany recently began introducing gasoline containing a higher percentage of biofuels. But consumers have so far been skittish, leading to production chaos and shortages of traditional gasoline. Some politicians have called for laws mandating that biofuels be scrapped altogether."
    • "It began as a plan to reduce the amount of CO2 being pumped into European skies. But a European Union directive requiring gas stations to sell fuel with 10 percent ethanol content has hit a snag in Germany, where consumers are avoiding the new petrol -- known as E10 -- because it is harmful to some cars."
    • "The controversy looks set to trigger yet another debate over the feasibility of using biofuels on a large scale....Not only is significant energy used in the production of the fuel, but it isn't uncommon for forestland -- a natural absorber of CO2 -- to be clear-cut for the planting of biofuels crops. Critics have also questioned the use of farmland for automobile fuel in an age of skyrocketing food prices."[41]
  • BP declares biofuels the only route to cleaner transport, 3 March 2011 by Business Green: "Biofuels is the 'only game in town' when it comes to decarbonising the transport sector, according to Olivier Mace, a senior BP executive, who also downplayed the potential for electric vehicles as a near-term replacement for conventional cars."
    • "Mace said he expected growing demand in India and China would by 2030 push the biofuel share of all road transport fuel well above the 12 per cent mark BP has previously predicted."
    • "But despite the industry's enthusiasm, Kenneth Richter, biofuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth, warned that growing demand for energy crops would contribute to rising emissions."
    • ""Research has shown that the current rush to biofuel will lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, rather than a reduction," Richter told BusinessGreen. "This is caused by the need to convert massive amounts of natural habitat into biofuel plantations."[42]
  • From embattled palm oil producer to industry leader: CSR veteran’s challenge for Golden Agri, 2 March 2011 by Eco-business.com: "In a recent interview, UK-based corporate sustainability veteran David Logan revealed that he is now working with Golden Agri-Resources (Golden Agri) on the firm’s first sustainability report."
    • "Golden Agri - which enjoys annual revenues of more than US$2 billion - has in recent years been in the glare of the public eye, with environmental groups such as Greenpeace campaigning against the firm over allegations of illegal forest clearing."
    • "Golden Agri commissioned an independent audit by Control Union Certification and BSI Group to investigate the allegations, but after the results were released both parties clashed on how the report should be interpreted."
    • "Golden Agri appointed strategic communications consultancy Pelham Bell Pottinger Asia, along with its sustainability specialist arm Corporate Citizenship, to help them deal with the situation. Mr Logan was involved in examining some of the challenges presented by the Greenpeace campaign, including the validity of the allegations and possible courses of action."[43]
  • Palm Oil Gains as Crude’s Rally Increases Attraction of Biofuel, 2 March 2011 by Bloomberg.com: "Palm oil advanced for a second day as higher crude prices increased the appeal of the tropical commodity for biofuel even as analysts forecast a rebound in supply and larger stockpiles."
    • "'Rising crude oil prices could make biodiesel production viable again,' HwangDBS Vickers Research Sdn. said in a report today. 'Additional demand from this energy segment would help to absorb higher palm oil supplies.'"[44]
  • Coalition of 90 groups urges Congress to end corn ethanol subsidies, 1 March 2011 by Switchboard.nrdc.org: "Today, a whopping coalition of 90 organizations sent a letter to Congressional leadership calling on Congress to end wasteful corn ethanol subsidies and resist industry pressure to spend more taxpayer dollars supporting this dirty fuel."
    • "This is not the first time that business associations and advocacy groups, lawmakers and major newspaper editorial boards from the left, right and center have all come together to reject more giveaways to old, dirty corn ethanol by allowing the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit or “VEETC” to expire at year-end."
    • "As the coalition letter points out, the facts are crystal clear: analysis after analysis has shown the redundancy and wastefulness of the VEETC and concluded that ending it would have little impact on domestic corn ethanol production or jobs."[46]
    • "To see the letter, go to Anti-VEETC Coalition Letter (PDF File)"



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