Water

From BioenergyWiki

(Redirected from Water pollution)
Jump to: navigation, search

Bioenergy > Issues > Environment > Water


Rainforest-fed stream in Madagascar

Information about biofuels and bioenergy and water.

Contents

Issues

  • Water pollution
    • Acidification
    • Nutrient loading
      • Eutrophication
  • Water usage
    • Irrigation
      • Groundwater depletion

Resources/Reports

Events

2012

2011

2010

News

Tropical forests provide essential ecological services such as protecting critical watersheds, functioning as valuable carbon sinks and helping to regulate our global climate.

2011

  • Fifth of Global Energy Could Come from Biomass Without Damaging Food Production, Report Suggests, 25 November 2011 by Science Direct: "A new report suggests that up to one fifth of global energy could be provided by biomass (plants) without damaging food production."
    • "The report finds that the main reason scientists disagree is that they make different assumptions about population, diet, and land use. A particularly important bone of contention is the speed with which productivity improvements in food and energy crop production can be rolled out."
    • "Technical advances could be the least contentious route to increased bio-energy production, but policy will need to encourage innovation and investment."
    • "A renewed focus on increasing food and energy crop yields could deliver a win-win opportunity as long as it is done without damaging soil fertility or depleting water resources."
    • "The report stresses the need for scientists working on food and agriculture to work more closely with bio-energy specialists to address challenges such as water availability and environmental protection."
    • "If biomass is required to play a major role in the future energy system the linkages between bio-energy and food production will become too important for either to be considered in isolation."[1]
  • High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion, 12 April 2011 by New York Times: "Long in decline, erosion is once again rearing as a threat because of an aggressive push to plant on more land, changing weather patterns and inadequate enforcement of protections, scientists and environmentalists say."
    • "Erosion can do major damage to water quality, silting streams and lakes and dumping fertilizers and pesticides into the water supply. Fertilizer runoff is responsible for a vast 'dead zone,' an oxygen-depleted region where little or no sea life can exist, in the Gulf of Mexico. And because it washes away rich topsoil, erosion can threaten crop yields. Significant gains were made in combating erosion in the 1980s and early 1990s, as the federal government began to require that farmers receiving agricultural subsidies carry out individually tailored soil conservation plans."
    • "...[G]overnment biofuels policies that have increased the demand for corn have encouraged farmers to plant more."
    • "More than anything else this year, farmers are making decisions based on how they can best take advantage of corn and soybean prices, which have soared in recent months."[3]
  • 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."[5]
  • Failure to act on crop shortages fuelling political instability, experts warn, 7 February 2011 by The Guardian: "World leaders are ignoring potentially disastrous shortages of key crops, and their failures are fuelling political instability in key regions, food experts have warned."
    • "Food prices have hit record levels in recent weeks, according to the United Nations, and soaring prices for staples such as grains over the past few months are thought to have been one of the factors contributing to an explosive mix of popular unrest in Egypt and Tunisia."
    • "The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation said this week that world food prices hit a record high in January, for the seventh consecutive month. Its food price index was up 3.4% from December to the highest level since the organisation started measuring food prices in 1990."
    • "Water scarcity, combined with soil erosion, climate change, the diversion of food crops to make biofuels, and a growing population, were all putting unprecedented pressure on the world's ability to feed itself, according to [Lester] Brown" of the Earth Policy Institute.[8]

2010

  • Algae Biofuels 10 Years From Viability, 8 November 2010 by Pete Danko: "Algae isn’t nearly ready for prime-time as a biofuel, according to a new study, and until it is the industry will need to seize upon non-fuel applications that could help make it cost-effective."
    • "The report found that even under best-case scenarios, oil produced from algae will remain excessively expensive in the 'near-to-mid-term.' Another challenge is that the industry is highly dependent on availability of suitable climate, water, flat land and carbon dioxide, all 'available in one location.' When everything comes together — perhaps 10 years of research, development and demonstration from now, 'algal oil production technology has the potential to produce several billion gallons of renewable fuel in the United States.'"
    • "To bridge the gap, the report recommends a focus on co-products — for instance, producing algal biofuels in conjuction with wastewater treatment. Another possibility cited was animal feeds."[10]
  • The only thing ‘green’ about NASCAR’s switch to corn ethanol is the cash, 29 October 2010 by Donald Carr: "In a move that USA Today says "could be regarded as economically motivated as well as environmentally aware," NASCAR will adopt an ethanol blend of fuel beginning with the 2011 Daytona 500."
    • "This bit of news was welcomed heartily by the corn ethanol lobby, which is facing the prospect of the ethanol tax credit subsidy expiring at the end of the year as well as consumer confusion at fueling stations across the country, as ethanol blends increase only for specific model-year vehicles."
    • "Here at the Environmental Working Group, we are certain that using corn ethanol as an alternative to gasoline is hardly a sustainable solution to our energy needs. We know that between 2005 and 2009, U.S. taxpayers spent $17 billion to subsidize corn ethanol blends in gasoline, an outlay that produced a paltry reduction in overall oil consumption equal to a 1.1 mile-per-gallon increase in fleetwide fuel economy."
    • "We're sure that corn ethanol production pollutes fresh-water sources in the Midwest. We know that there are serious concerns about ethanol plants and their impact on the environment. We know corn production for ethanol expands the dead zone in the Gulf. We also know it has led to obliteration of wildlife habitat."
  • Genetic map for switchgrass published, aids in study of biofuel, August 25 2010 by Andrea Johnson: "As farmers wait to produce new alternative energy crops, some USDA Agri-cultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are uncovering the secrets of switchgrass which, they say, holds so much potential as an alternative energy source."
    • "The USDA ARS Switchgrass team has found that switchgrass produces five times the cellulosic ethanol needed to cover the energy needs required to grow it and make it into fuel."
    • "It is also a perennial that reduces weed pressure and holds soils in place - preventing wind and rain erosion. It sequesters carbon long term, and it can be fed to cattle."
    • "One of the challenges with switchgrass is the need for fertilizer and water - just like corn - to produce maximum yields. Because it’s a perennial, it is challenging to get into the tall grass to apply fertilizer. The more switchgrass is harvested, the more water and fertilizer it needs to continue to thrive."
    • "Scientists hope to modify the cell wall composition of switchgrass to improve its properties for co-firing in a power plant. They also hope to use biotechnology to increase its digestibility and access to enzymes that would produce fermentable sugars for ethanol production."[13]
  • For Gulf, Biofuels Are Worse Than Oil Spill , 17 June 2010 editorial by Investor's Business Daily: "Our growing addiction to alternative energy was killing aquatic life in the Gulf long before the Deepwater Horizon spill. Abandoning oil will kill more and also release more carbon dioxide into the air."
    • "Before the first gallon gushed from Deepwater Horizon, there existed an 8,500 square mile 'dead zone' below the Mississippi River Delta....Hypoxia, or oxygen depletion, caused by agricultural runoff...has been on an upward trend as acreage for corn destined to become ethanol increases."
    • "Ethanol from corn sounds like an energy panacea, but the devil is in the details. It takes 4,000 gallons of fresh water per acre per day to replace evaporation in a cornfield".[16]
  • African Jatropha Boom Raises Concerns, 8 October 2009 by The New York Times Green Inc. blog: "Once the darling of biofuel enthusiasts, jatropha is raising concerns."
    • "In a report leaked to The East African newspaper last week, Envirocare, an environmental and human rights organization, highlighted the impact of the jatropha trade in Tanzania — including concerns over the displacement of farmers, water consumption, and the substitution of food crops for biofuels."
    • "Indeed, of 13 potential bioenergy crops analyzed...in a study...in the American Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, rapeseed and jatropha were found to be the least water-efficient biofuels."
    • "Mr. Ruud Van Eck, the chief executive of Diligent Energy Systems, a Dutch jatropha developer working in Tanzania, is among business executives who have contested the findings on the water footprint of jatropha."[20]
  • Can Dirt Really Save Us From Global Warming?, 3 September 2009 by NPR: "This month the Senate is set to take up the climate and energy bill that Congress began work on last spring. One provision will likely set up a system to pay farmers for something called 'no-till farming.'"
    • "There's a possible conflict brewing here, though. Federal law and the energy bill encourage farmers to remove crop residue — the remains of the previous season's crop — to make ethanol."
    • "'That's a no-no,'" soil scientist Rattan Lal says. "'The moment you take the crop residue away the benefit of no-till farming on erosion control, water conservation and on carbon sequestration will not be realized.'"(Audio also available)
  • BP Gives up on Jatropha for Biofuel, 17 July 2009 by the Wall Street Journal's blog Environmental Capital: "BP has indeed given up on jatropha, the shrub once touted as the great hope for biofuels, and walked away from its jatropha joint venture for less than $1 million."
    • Jatropha, "the inedible but hardy plant that just a few years ago seemed like it could revolutionize biofuels has turned into a bust. The initial attraction was that it grows on marginal land, so it wouldn’t compete with food crops. But marginal land means marginal yields. And jatropha turned out to be a water hog as well, further darkening its environmental credentials."[22]
  • Bioenergy Makes Heavy Demands On Scarce Water Supplies, 4 June 2009 by ScienceDaily: "The 'water footprint' of bioenergy, i.e. the amount of water required to cultivate crops for biomass, is much greater than for other forms of energy. The generation of bioelectricity is significantly more water-efficient in the end, however – by a factor of two – than the production of biofuel. By establishing the water footprint for thirteen crops, researchers at the University of Twente were able to make an informed choice of a specific crop and production region. They published their results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of 2 June."
    • "By linking the water consumption to the location and climate data, it is possible to select the optimum production region for each crop. This makes it easier to prevent biomass cultivation from jeopardizing food production in regions where water is already in short supply".
    • "Water that is used for bioenergy – whether it be for a food crop such as maize or a non-food crop such as jatropha – cannot be used for food production, for drinking water or for maintaining natural eco-systems."[24]
  • Water worries cloud future for U.S. biofuel, 14 April 2009 by Reuters: "Critics argue that precious water resources are being bled dry by ethanol when water shortages are growing ever more dire. [U.S.] Federal mandates encouraging more ethanol production don't help."
    • "'Biofuels are off the charts in water consumption. We're definitely looking at something where the cure may be worse than the disease,' said Brooke Barton, a manager of corporate accountability for Ceres".
    • "Corn is a particularly thirsty plant, requiring about 20 inches of soil moisture per acre to grow a decent crop, but most corn is grown with rain, not irrigation. Manufacturing plants that convert corn's starch into fuel are a far bigger draw on water sources."
    • "Water consumption by ethanol plants largely comes from evaporation during cooling and wastewater discharge. A typical plant uses about 4.2 gallons of water to make one gallon of ethanol, according to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy."
    • "The ethanol industry pegs that at about 3 gallons of water to 1 gallon of fuel."[25]
  • Biofuels, food crops straining world water reserves, 24 August 2008 by AFP: "Burgeoning demand for food to feed the world's swelling population, coupled with increased use of biomass as fuel is putting a serious strain on global water reserves, experts said".
    • Scientists predict that "we will only be able to 'meet food demands by 2050 if we have a much more efficient use of water...That does not include the water we need for all that biomass'".




Water edit
RSB principle on water
Environment edit
Climate change - Greenhouse gases | Ecosystems (Forests, Grasslands, Wetlands) | Life-cycle analysis
Species (Biodiversity, Invasive species, Orangutans)
Biotechnology/Genetically Modified Organisms | Pollution | Soil (Soil erosion)
Land - Desertification | REDD
RSB Working Group on Environment


Navigation

What is bioenergy? | Benefits/Risks | Who is doing what?
Events | Glossary | News | Organizations | Publications | Regions | Technologies/Feedstocks | Policy | Timeline | Voices
Wiki "sandbox" - Practice editing | About this Wiki | How to edit

Personal tools