Second Generation Transport Biofuels Can Play a Significant Role in Meeting UK Carbon Reduction Targets, Says Report
(Green Air Online) A viable second generation liquid biofuel industry and market has a significant role in helping to meet UK long-term carbon reduction goals, particularly in sectors like aviation where alternative low-carbon options are not available. So concludes a report by the Royal Academy of Engineering commissioned by the UK’s transport and energy government departments, DfT and BEIS. Aviation – along with shipping and heavy goods vehicles – should be considered a priority for the development and use of biofuels, it recommends. While there has been growth in the contribution of biofuels to road transport in the UK under the government’s Renewable Fuels Transport Obligation (RTFO), although production has stagnated over the past eight years, little progress has been made in aviation and even less in shipping. An immediate priority, says the Academy, is for government to incentivise the development of second generation biofuels such as those derived from wastes and agricultural, forest and sawmill residues.
“Second generation biofuels offer real prospects for the UK to make progress in reducing emissions from transport, particularly in sectors like aviation where liquid fuels are really the only option for the foreseeable future,” said Professor Adisa Azapagic, Chair of the Academy’s working group on biofuels. “Our report shows that with the right safeguards and monitoring, biofuels from waste in particular are well worth pursuing from a sustainability point of view and also provide business opportunities for development.”
While the report is enthusiastic in its support, subject to strict sustainability criteria, for second generation, also called advanced, biofuels, it acknowledges the controversial nature of first generation biofuels has led to lukewarm government support for biofuels in general.
The Academy also suggests the government should consider different incentive bands for second generation biofuels that are in an earlier stage of development and require a greater incentive.
The report also recommends improvements should be made to the life-cycle assessment of biofuels, more robust auditing of sustainability, development of a risk-based approach to biofuels and strengthening sustainability governance across the different sectors that biofuels are a part of.
Lastly, it suggests the government should take a more active role in engaging with the public on this issue. “Key areas of debate that need to be drawn out include food security, the relationship between investment in agriculture and investment in biofuels, as well as the need to develop biofuels for key transport sectors – road freight, shipping and aviation – that lack other low-carbon options,” concludes the ‘Sustainability of liquid biofuels’ report. READ MORE