New Biofuels Offer Hope to Hungry World
by James Melik (BBC News) …The chairman of the world’s largest food producer is highly critical of the rise in bio-diesel.
Peter Brabeck-Letmathe of Nestle says crops produced for biofuel use land and water which would otherwise be used to grow crops for human or animal consumption.
…But Lars Hansen of Novozymes in Denmark, which produces enzymes to break down the crops used for biofuels, says there are currently large amounts of bio-mass not being used.
Speaking about the second-generation of biofuels, he says: “The way forward is to convert the residue part of the crop into sugars which can then be used for fuels.”
By residue, he means the part of the crop which is not eaten – the stalks and husks, and also wood chippings.
…”If you take just 20% of the agricultural and forest residue available in Europe, which can sustainably be taken away from the fields, you can make half of Europe’s gasoline demands,” he says.
“The technology is in place,” he says, “what we now need is for government policies to move in the right direction.”
…”We are moving from a world with 750 million cars to double that number in only 10 years, so we need an alternative to fossil fuels,” he notes.
Doug Parr of Greenpeace agrees there are opportunities in second generation biofuels, although he maintains it still does not address the issue of how land is used.
…He cites a project Novozymes is running in Mozambique, where farmers make cassava starch which can either be used as food, or any excess can be sold to a small factory where it is transformed into a fuel which is then used in cooking stoves or running transport.
“We are creating economic activity in the rural areas of Africa, we improve the energy independence of the countries by helping them import less fuel,” he says.