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.
Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
In a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Virginia and published in Environmental Science & Technology, the authors claim that algae causes more harm to the environment than traditional biofuel crops like corn.
However, in this study, the researchers used algae production data from at least a decade ago.
In response, Andres Clarens the lead author of the study said he used the most recent data that he could, which was about 10 years old. Algae biofuel companies keep their research a closely guarded secret, he said.
Tuesday, February 9th, 2010
The U.S. biofuels story is a mix of interrelated elements: energy security (lessening dependence on Middle Eastern oil), ethanol, a clean energy economy…and China.
Traditionally, the geopolitical reality plays out like this: the United States relies on politically sensitive Middle Eastern petroleum, which makes the U.S. particularly sensitive to oil price volatility, which in turn, compels the U.S. to invest money and human capital in guaranteeing supply.
But as a major corn producer, the United States commits corn resources to biofuels in the name of moving towards energy independence, price security, and a clean energy economy. Meanwhile, China is industrializing, making a lot of money in the process, and beginning to suck up a rapidly growing percentage of the global supply of crude oil.
Friday, February 5th, 2010
Researchers in the Middle East are developing a technology they say will convert saltwater-tolerant crops into jet fuel, creating a biofuel that doesn’t consume huge amounts of fresh water or take land away from food crops.
The Masdar Institute in the United Arab Emirates is creating a demonstration farm that will use a system called integrated seawater agriculture, in which seawater would be transported via canal to a desert-based farm that combines fish and shrimp farming with cultivation of mangrove trees and salicornia, whose seeds can be converted into fuel.