A Time to Take Stock: Advanced Biofuels as a Solution
by Joanne Ivancic* (Advanced Biofuels USA) A time for taking stock and giving thanks; for appreciating the value of creating a truly sustainable renewable energy future.
A recent press release, Vapor Capture System Fabricated by Greenbelt Resources Exceeds Performance Expectations, caught my eye as a fitting topic for a Thanksgiving editorial–capturing ethanol waste from wine-making to prevent an air pollution problem with an advanced biofuels solution.
The original left out details–was it really recycled into fuel? A conversation with Greenbelt Resources’ CEO Darren Eng confirmed that it could be put into the fuels market; some might become brandy. And more.
The Greenbelt modular system (click here for more articles about the system) is designed as a solution to the problem of converting relatively small amounts of feedstock into fuels for local use with an emphasis on waste, co-products and centralized digital-driven biorefinery management.
So this Thanksgiving as you remember those whose work brought you your daily food, feed, fiber and fun (wine, beer, sodas, football games and holiday parade balloons, etc.), think also of those who manage what is left over.
And think of that waste as a resource that will be a part of a truly sustainable renewable future–if you, also, work to make it happen.
Here’s how Greenbelt Resources sees the potential from the perspective of Santa Monica, CA–converting local agricultural and food waste into renewable fuel, filtered water, renewable energy and (not shown in diagram) feed and fertilizer:
And here’s how others are working on waste-to-fuels to make the transition to renewable fuels a reality:
Make your commitment today.
Look beyond today to a more conscientious tomorrow.
Happy Thanksgiving, in the USA and around the world.
*Joanne Ivancic, serves as Executive Director of Advanced Biofuels USA.
11 Top Low-Carbon Fuel Players, WCSBD Publish COP 21 Guide to Slashing Transport-Based Greenhouse Gas Emissions
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) In Switzerland, 11 leading low carbon fuel companies present a comprehensive guide that identifies a variety of available and accessible low carbon fuel solutions.
Today, only 3% of transportation fuels are low carbon. According to the International Energy Agency, 10% of fuels must be low carbon by 2030 if we are to satisfy economic growth while staying below 2°C.
The guide was developed to help countries and businesses identify the most suitable low carbon fuel technologies that will enable them to implement their climate commitments following this year’s climate talks in Paris. The initiative is part of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development Low Carbon Technology Partnerships Initiative whose outcomes will be presented at COP21.
No one has yet produced a sharper, in-depth summary of the imperative for low-carbon fuels, the state of their development, and the critical policy supports needed to ensure their deployment. Without a transport solution, there is no climate solution, and the children of today will be direct beneficiaries of these science-based policies, if they are employed and enforced. READ MORE and MORE and MORE Download report
Table of Contents:
KEY TO A SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY
5 What this report is about
6 What are low carbon transport fuels?
7 The present impact of transportation
8 How low carbon fuels can mitigate climate change
9 The main barriers to growth
11 Overcoming the barriers: policy asks
14 Country cases
17 The way forward
21 Characteristics of transportation sectors
23 Technology showcase
24 Conventional Ethanol
26 Lignocellulosic Ethanol
28 Engineered photosynthesis
30 Power to fuels (gas and liquids)
32 Waste gas to fuels
34 Municipal solid waste to fuels
35 Hydrogenated organic oil
Excerpts from report: Decarbonizing the transport sector is indispensable for achieving the overall climate goal of staying below a 2°C rise of global temperature. Meanwhile, low carbon transport fuels have been widely acknowledged for their significant potential. Growth in this sector, however, must increase fivefold from today’s levels within fifteen years.
This report highlights the efforts of a new, growing coalition of twelve companies and four partner organizations to delivering these growth rates. Within the framework of the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative on transport fuels, they share a common goal in developing these markets and technologies. After all, decarbonizing the transportation sector is their core business. But they cannot do this on their own. To secure this huge growth, the business community’s efforts and investments need to be backed by effective and stable policies.
Only with a consistent public private collaboration, will the transportation sector meet the urgent need to contribute to mitigating climate change.
Low carbon transport fuels are essentially liquid or gaseous fuels with a significantly better CO2 performance (defined by this group as at least 50%) than conventional fossil transport fuels. Low carbon fuels can be based on biomass or other short-cycled carbon resources. Compared with fossil fuels, their life cycles of production and use lead to (much) lower CO2 emissions. So-called (liquid) biofuels are the main group of low carbon fuels. This partnership distinguishes two main groups of low carbon technologies:
Mature Technologies: Conventional biofuel technologies include well-established processes that produce biofuels on a commercial scale. These biofuels, commonly referred to as ‘first-generation’, include sugar- and starch-based ethanol, and vegetable oil based biodiesel. Typical feedstocks presently used in these processes include sugarcane and sugar beet, grains like corn and wheat, oil crops like rape (canola), palm oil (see text box on sustainability later on in the report) and soybean, and waste streams like used cooking oil.
Early Stage technologies:
• Advanced biofuel technologies, commonly referred to as second- or third-generation, are still in the research and development (R&D), pilot or demonstration phase. They include biofuels based on lignocellulosic biomass, such as cellulosic-ethanol, biomass-to-liquids (BtL)-diesel and biosynthetic gas (bio-SG). The category also includes novel technologies that are mainly in the R&D and pilot stage, such as waste gas fermentation, algae-based biofuels and the conversion of sugar into diesel-type biofuels using biological or chemical catalysts.
• Non-biomass based fuels are technologies that use non-biomass feedstock. Similar to advanced biofuels, these technologies are still in the research and development (R&D), pilot or demonstration phase. These technologies include biodiesel from algae, power-to-gas and power-to-fuel, so called electro fuels and fuels from engineered photosynthesis.
ADDRESSING SUSTAINABILITY ISSUES
Following rapid development of biofuels in the past decade, concerns have been raised about certain sustainability issues of low carbon fuels. Knowing that the starting position of these fuels is intrinsically more sustainable than their fossil equivalents, the industry supports even stronger sustainability requirements: regarding the performance in greenhouse gas emission reduction, preventing an impact on food security, and minimizing environmental impacts, e.g. at the feedstock production location.
One issue that has received much attention is the threat of Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC). Biofuels (and also other new biomaterials) produced from crops need increased production. At present, a large part of the biofuels on the market are the result of yield increases. But if additional agricultural land is created at the expense of tropical forests or peatland, as discussed within the framework of palm oil production, indirect carbon emissions can occur that may nullify the direct savings of low carbon fuels for many years.
Many organizations like the International Food Policy Research Institute IFPRI, the EU Joint Research Centre JRC and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization FAO have presented authoritative studies on the issue. At present, the industry focuses on growth options without causing ILUC, such as improving yields and supply chain efficiency, using degraded land, creating food-fuel synergy or pursuing non-biobased solutions.
Industry and policy makers should meet in setting sustainability requirements. While setting the general framework, policy makers should leave specific feedstock or technology choices to the industry. For instance, the EU has already set strict rules with regard to overall greenhouse gas emission savings. Also, using feedstock from land that was previously high in carbon or biodiversity should not be allowed. READ MORE
Electric Cars and the Coal that Runs Them
by Michael Birnbaum (The Washington Post) Cheap electricity, a changing climate This is part of a series exploring how the world’s hunger for cheap electricity is complicating efforts to combat climate change. — … But behind the green growth is a filthy secret: In a nation famous for its windmills, electricity is coming from a far dirtier source. Three new coal-fired power plants, including two here on the Rotterdam harbor, are supplying much of the power to fuel the Netherlands’ electric-car boom.
As the world tries to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and combat climate change, policymakers have pinned hopes on electric cars, whose range and convenience are quickly improving. Alongside the boom has come a surging demand for power to charge the vehicles, which can consume as much electricity in a single charge as the average refrigerator does in a month and a half.
… But in areas supplied by dirtier power, like China, India and even the Netherlands, which is on track to miss ambitious emissions targets set for 2020, the electric-car jump has slimmer payoffs. In some cases, it could even worsen the overall climate impact of driving, experts say.
Cutting transportation-related emissions can help — but not if pollution is simply shifted from the tailpipes of cars to the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants, which generate 40 percent of the world’s electricity.
“The overall emissions of electricity generation in Europe still haven’t gone down,” said Luc Werring, the former principal adviser to the European Commission on energy issues. “If you drive your car on mixed electricity, then you’re not reducing carbon as much as you’d expect.”
…(T)he Netherlands will blow past its 2020 emissions targets, the result of the new coal-fired power plants and delays in expanding wind power. Two of the new coal-fired plants are in Rotterdam’s port, where their tall smokestacks belch exhaust across the city.
In coal-fired Colorado, a gasoline car with fuel economy better than 34 miles per gallon will be better for emissions than the average electric car, according to calculations from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The biggest market in the world is China. Sales of electric cars nearly tripled there between January and August compared with a year earlier, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
Chinese leaders have embraced electric cars as a way of cleaning up cities that have some of the worst air quality in the world. But the Chinese electricity market is heavily dependent on coal; the pollution is simply being taken from the centers of cities and moved to their outskirts.
“The economics do not make sense to push more electric vehicles onto the market” to improve the climate, said John DeCicco, a professor at the University of Michigan Energy Institute. He said that attention might be better focused on making conventional combustion engines more efficient. READ MORE