Monday, April 12th, 2010
With subsidy support for corn ethanol under attack, algae and cellulosic look to secure federal support. The result: a subsidy battle in the Capital that could dictate the direction of the U.S. biofuel industry over the next decade.
Has the transition to advanced biofuels turned the corner?
Probably not yet, but sustainable alternatives are beginning to get their day in the sun in Washington D.C. The result: a subsidy brawl is taking shape that will likely dictate the direction of U.S. biofuels development over the next 5-10 years.
There are a few moving elements, but here are the recent highlights: (more…)
Friday, March 26th, 2010
As I wrote last week, aviation demand for biofuels is bursting at the seams. The trouble is, there are no easy alternatives. Sustainable, non-food feedstocks like camelina and jatropha are just getting traction and the process of turning algae into fuel is still under development, which leaves few alternatives for the petroleum-dependent aviation industry.
Unlike ground transportation, the key issue for airlines is that they are entirely dependent on liquid fuel, and this — right now — is hurting their bottom line. According to the Air Transport Association (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, fuel expenses have historically ranged from 10 to 15 percent of U.S. passenger airline operating costs, but averaged more than 35 percent in the third quarter of 2008.
Monday, March 22nd, 2010
Aviation demand for biofuels is bursting at the seams. Hemmed in by emerging certifications, a petroleum-based distribution network, and lack of supply, the industry is stuck on petroleum fuels for now, but not by choice.
Pressure to integrate more biofuels into the supply chain is palpable: oil price increases, oil price volatility, oil scarcity, greenhouse gas emission regulation, and increasingly, corporate social responsibility commitments. The future of the aviation sector is dependent on its ability to pivot away from petroleum-based fuels to alternative sources of energy, and they must do it quickly.
One caveat: while demand may be substantial, no one knows for sure if supply can keep pace, which makes statements from aviation experts at the World Biofuels Markets taking place in Amsterdam this week all that more interesting. (more…)
Thursday, March 11th, 2010
The U.S. Senate voted 62 to 36 Wednesday to pass a tax extension bill (H.R. 4213) that includes a key $1 biodiesel tax credit.
The expiration of the credit on Dec. 31, 2009 put the breaks on an expanding industry and raised questions about biodiesel’s future in the U.S.
With many biodiesel plants either idle or shutdown throughout the country, the bill will reinstate the credit retroactively, extending it through Dec. 31., 2010.
Although biodiesel received a tremendous boost under the new renewable fuel standard (RFS2), without a tax credit, the industry could not compete on price with petroleum-based diesel.
Monday, March 8th, 2010
A recent report in preparation for the 12th International Energy Forum’s ministerial, scheduled in Cancun, Mexico later this month, studies and assesses the potential and limitations of biofuels.
Criticized by the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) as “self serving,” the report suggests that mounting evidence from research and analysis shows that the demise of the fossil fuel era is nowhere in sight and cautions against the widespread adoption of biofuels.
Authored by Claude Mandil, the former executive director of the International Energy Agency, and Adnan Shihab-Eldin, the former acting secretary general of OPEC, the report examines the extent to which biofuels could contribute meaningfully to meeting a substantial portion of future demand in the transportation sector.
Monday, March 8th, 2010
The U.S. Congress is coming under increased lobbying pressure from the algal organizations to extend tax code parity to algae-based biofuels.
The Algal Biomass Organization and members of the Biotechnology Industry Organization are urging Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) to adopt an amendment offered to the Tax Extenders Act of 2009 by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Jeff Bingaman D-(NM).
The amendment would ensure algae fuels receive the financial and regulatory benefits available to other advanced biofuel feedstocks and promote the development and commercialization of algae fuels. (more…)
Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
Biofuels in Europe are struggling to meet the most basic thresholds for sustainability, according to the Times of London, which claims to have seen a government study that shows fossil fuels are better for the environment than “green fuels” made from crops.
The findings show that the United Kingdom’s biofuels mandate would result in millions of acres of forest being logged or burnt down and converted to plantations.
The study finds that some of the most basic crops used to make biofuels fail to meet the minimum sustainability standard set by the European Commission. (more…)
Friday, February 26th, 2010
The European Commission confirmed on Thursday that it believes legally binding sustainability criteria for biomass used to generate heat and power are not necessary in Europe, thus ending a long process by which the European Union body has debated the utility of a supranational scheme.
The Commission, however, adopted a report on sustainability requirements for the use of solid biomass and biogas in electricity, heating, and cooling. The report makes recommendations on sustainability criteria to member states and encourages them to introduce schemes at the national level.
This strategy minimizes the risk of the development of varied and possibly incompatible criteria at the national level, leading to barriers to trade and limiting the growth of the bio-energy sector in the European Union. (more…)
Monday, February 22nd, 2010
The last several months have seen a flurry of activity in the aviation sector, as fuel price volatility and impending greenhouse gas regulations have goaded major airlines to ink deals for renewable jet fuel.
The latest involves British Airways, which struck a deal with Solena Group for 16 million gallons of jet fuel from waste.
The moves highlight the tremendous pressure airlines are under to keep costs low in an increasingly oil constrained world and regulated marketplace. During the last oil spike, fuel expenses, which historically ranged from 10 to 15 percent of US passenger airline operating costs, averaged more than 35 percent in the third quarter of 2008. According to news coming out of the International Air Transport Association, the marketplace for cheap fuel is about to get much more crowded.
Wednesday, February 17th, 2010
The E.U. Emissions Trading System (ETS) has given a sense of urgency to the development of renewable aviation jet fuel. British Airways is the latest airline to ink a deal, announcing that they are building capacity to produce renewable aviation biofuels using waste biomass as a feedstock.
British Airways has partnered with the U.S. company Solena Group to establish Europe’s first sustainable jet-fuel plant and plans to use the low-carbon fuel to power part of its fleet starting in 2014.