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Biofuels & Petro-fuels = Liquid Fuels (Part Two)***

by afew Thu Jul 13th, 2006 at 08:43:16 AM EST

In Part One, I suggested that there was a spin battle going on around market shares for liquid fuels that power cars and trucks, between the agri-business and the oil-business lobbies, with the automobile industry happy to back agri-business so as to pick up a cheap Green 'n' Clean™ label and go on with the same practice as before.

I suggested that, although Peak Oil was not necessarily widely understood, the notion that we would not have oil for ever, and that its price was going to rise, had now penetrated mass consciousness. And that there was consequently a jockeying for position to place alternatives, while the petroleum industry had no intention of giving an inch.

I'm not basing this on insider knowledge, but on the recent rise in the media of spectacularly opposing views, some presenting biofuels as an Eldorado, others presenting them as a no-starter: Biofuels could be a huge waste of taxpayer money (and denying Peak Oil to boot: The FT's Martin Wolf does not believe in peak oil). The smackdown from the Financial Times seems all the more significant at a time when the European Commission is (apparently in some haste) preparing a review of its 2003 Biofuels Directive.

***Back from front page


What are biofuels?

For the purposes of this discussion, biofuels are liquid fuels produced from biomass, and, in particular, biodiesel and bioethanol.

Biodiesel

Biodiesel, for use with diesel engines, is made from oil-bearing seeds. Soybeans are used in the US; in the EU, rapeseed (aka canola) and sunflowerseed. Palm oil, grown in Malaysia and Indonesia, gives a higher yield. Recycled cooking oil may also be a source.

Straight vegetable oil may be used directly in some older diesel engines (a fact that is generally hidden under technobabble in official communications); some degree of refining is necessary in other cases. I don't propose to go into the different present and possible future declensions of the product, and will simply call it "biodiesel".

Ethanol

Ethanol is simply the alcohol some of us are accustomed to consume in moderate quantities and some of us... (Well, let's not go there, shall we?). As a fuel, it is distilled from maize (corn) in the US, from maize, wheat, and sugar beet in the EU, and from sugar cane in Brazil (there again, the tropical crop beats the temperate-zone crops).

Ethanol is used as an additive to petrol (gasoline). Ordinary petrol engines can run on E10, that is, a 10% mix of ethanol with 90% petrol. Flex-fuel cars can run on E85 (85% ethanol). Ethanol works, but its energy density is 66% that of petrol: in other words, you need 1.5 litres of ethanol to equal 1 litre of petrol.

These fuels are also divided into first and second generation - meaning, what can be put on stream industrially now and in the near future, and what is still more or less experimental. First-generation biofuels are made from the food crops listed above. Second-generation biofuels may be derived from algae, or forestry by-products, or grass cuttings from permanent grassland - in other words, non-food crops not taking up the better arable land.

At the moment, the push and pull is really about first-generation biofuels. The industrial processes needed are simple and well-understood, and the agri-industry is looking for public support to grow their market share.

Are first-generation biofuels a Good Thing? Are they as green as advertised? Do they represent a practical - practicable - alternative to petro-fuels?

Criticism is brought to bear under three headings:

·    sustainability (agricultural methods)
·    energy balance (input compared to output)
·    land use (how much will be left for food?)

Sustainability

The EC Communication A EU Strategy For Biofuels says this:

It is essential that appropriate minimum environmental standards apply to feedstock production for biofuels, adapted to local conditions in the EU and third countries. In particular, some concerns have been raised over the use of set-aside land because of the potential impact on biodiversity and soil, and over the growing of biofuels in environmentally vulnerable areas. Addressing these concerns requires attention to where energy crops would fit within rotations generally, the avoidance of negative effects on biodiversity, water pollution, soil degradation, and the disruption of habitats and species in areas of high nature value. Sustainability criteria for EU production should, however, not be limited to energy crops, but should cover all agricultural land, as required by cross-compliance rules established under the 2003 CAP reform.

Without going into details, let's just note the lack of ambition and well, energy, of this ritual admonition. Oh, we should be careful not to grow feedstock crops in the middle of a nature reserve, and well, energy crops should just be as sustainable as any other crops. Right, which at the moment, in industrial agriculture, means not sustainable.

And that's just talk: in practice, farmers are under pressure to produce yields and they don't follow any rules that don't have teeth. Investing in new agri-business that will lock farmers yet more tightly into an integrated industrial process is most unlikely to encourage sustainable agricultural methods.

A Local Example France grows about one-third of EU-25 grain maize, and one-third of French grain maize is grown on 600,000 ha in the two southwestern regions of Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrénées. This is industrial, high-energy-input monoculture that has been carried out on the same land for decades. Maize provides the soil with some kind of cover for only four months of the year, and even then there are 80 cm of weedkilled, bare soil between rows. Soil erosion is considerable, and run-off during storms not only carries off topsoil, it contributes to the flooding that has become common in Europe over the past fifteen years or so. Irrigation is intensively practised, with enormous wastage, abuse of the aquifer and river system, and water pollution by fertiliser and pesticides.

This needs to change, but locally it is becoming part of common thinking that "tomorrow's fuels" will be produced here. If anything, maize monoculture for ethanol is likely to become less sustainable, not more. Bringing "set-aside" land into the mix (fields that have been left fallow, with CAP subsidies, for years now) may pose biodiversity problems. It may also cause yet more destruction of remaining hedges, banks, and ditches as these "set-aside" fields (often small and not easily mechanisable) are regrouped into larger fields for machinery and irrigation reasons. It would also undoubtedly operate as a back door for GM maize. Currently public opinion is against GM crops entering into human foodstuffs. But if it's only to put in your car, why worry? And once GM maize is out there, there will be cross-pollination with non-GM maize, and it will be there to stay.

Energy Balance

Two researchers who have worked on this aspect are David Pimentel of Cornell and Tad Patzek of Berkeley. Their conclusions are that first-generation biofuels present a very poor, indeed disqualifying, energy input : energy output ratio. See, for example, Patzek Thermodynamics of the Corn-Ethanol Biofuel Cycle (pdf), where he presents, pp. 7-20, an extremely detailed breakdown of energy inputs into maize-cultivation per hectare, and an analysis, pp 22-25, of energy inputs into ethanol production. From the abstract:

First, I demonstrate that more fossil energy is used to produce ethanol from corn than the ethanol's calorific value. <snip> In 2004, ethanol production from corn will generate 11 million tonnes of incremental CO2, over and above the amount of CO2 generated by burning gasoline with 115% of the calorific value of this ethanol.

I'm not qualified to judge Patzek and Pimentel's work. They are decried by biofuel advocates as (diversely) nuclear or oil industry shills. It is said that their energy reckonings are ridiculously detailed, including the energy needed for a farm hand to drive to work or the energy sunk into the production of the nuts and bolts in the farm machinery. (see discussion here.)

There's another critique, that says that it doesn't matter if the fossil fuel energy sunk into producing the biofuel is greater than the energy the biofuel can make available:

ethanol is a liquid fuel that has qualities that make it useful in the existing transportation infrastructure. Since the natural gas and coal used to produce ethanol do not have this quality, it can be practical to lose energy in the process of converting these fuels into ethanol. Second, even crude petroleum must be refined into usable liquids.
From Worldwatch Institute Biofuels For Transportation (pdf) (does anyone know anything about the Worldwatch Institute?)

In other words, what it's all about is producing liquid fuels to run cars and trucks and planes, whatever the environmental cost? Is that acceptable?

Land Use

How much land do we need to dedicate to producing liquid fuels instead of food? The biofuel optimists either ignore the problem (the usual technological progress will solve it, you'll see), or, like the European Environmental Agency, in a (big pdf!!) report, How much bioenergy can Europe produce without harming the environment?, in a single, multi-assumption, complex and unconvincing scenario, conclude that arable land will get freed up, pretty much, by Market Forces™.

Others say biofuels would eat up a huge amount of arable land. DeAnander made some calculations in this diary. The FT backs her up with this graph concerning the EU:

This (FT, not De!) may have the oil lobby somewhere behind it, but is it false?

Here are a couple of EU examples that may help answer the question. The first shows exaggeration on the other side:

In a BBC article, a biofuels company, Green Spirit Fuels, says:

One hectare of wheat produces about 29,000 miles of motoring, enough to take a car around the equator and still have 4,000 miles of fuel left

Wheat yields about 2,500 litres/hectare of ethanol which, in energy content, equals 2500 x 66%, or 1,650 litres equivalent petrol (gasoline).

29,000 miles (46,400 km) with 1,650 litres (363 imperial gallons, or 436 US gallons) in the tank, works out at

·    3.5 l/100 km
·    80 mpg (UK)
·    66.5 mpg (US)

Either they're counting on an experimental low-consumption car, or they're bumping up the amount of ethanol provided by a hectare of wheat. Or I got the numbers wrong, please check them.


(From Worldwatch Institute report linked above).

Total grain maize production of the EU-25 is roughly 50 M tonnes, grown on 6-6.5 M ha. A hectare of maize provides about 3,100 l ethanol (from 8 tonnes grain dry matter approx, which gives us about 380 l/t ethanol.) If all the maize in the EU were made into ethanol, we'd get

50 M x 380 = 19,000 M litres

Mixed at 10% with 90% petrol, that would give 190, 000 M litres of E10.

The total petrol consumption of the EU-25 is given by Eurostat (for 2002) as

5, 242, 160 terajoules

Taking the energy content of a litre of petrol at 32 megajoules, we get approx.

164, 000 M litres of petrol consumed in the EU-25.

So the entire maize crop of the EU would more than cover the "needs" in E10, but not by all that much. 86% of it would have to go to making ethanol, leaving less than 14% for food.

Of course, they're not proposing to make ethanol with maize alone (there'd be some sugar beet at a higher yield, see chart above, and a lot of wheat at a lower yield), but it gives a ballpark idea of what would be needed just for a 10% contribution from ethanol.

I think these back-of-envelope calculations tend to support the sceptical position on biofuel land use. In other words, the FT isn't wrong, certainly not enough to be accused of publishing even misleading information.

The EU Consultation

The Transport and Energy Commission is bringing forward a review of its 2003 Biofuels Directive, and has set out its review agenda in the Communication An EU Strategy For Biofuels.

The Commission will • bring forward a report in 2006 with a view to a possible revision of the Biofuels Directive. This report will inter alia address the issues of setting national targets for the market share of biofuels, using biofuel obligations and ensuring sustainable production

Why bring forward the report? Perhaps because of this:

The 2005 target share of 2% biofuels was not achieved. With the objectives set by the Member States, the share of biofuels would have attained, at most, only 1.4%. The Commission has launched infringement proceedings in seven cases where Member States adopted low targets without due justification.

Also possibly this:

The Communication proposes setting-up a specific ad hoc group to consider biomass and biofuel opportunities within national rural development programmes, as well as recommending that renewable and alternative energy sources are an important objective for cohesion policy. The European Commission and the Member States will need to work in partnership to assess how these limited EU funds can be used cost-effectively to make a genuine difference as part of a wider climate change strategy. These funds should not simply be used as indirect subsidies. This work should happen as a priority to be relevant, as the programming schedule for these funds indicates programmes should be effective from 1st January 2007.

From a response to the Communication by WWF, WWF & the EU Biofuels Communication (pdf). (emphasis mine).

In other words, if the Commission wants to get rural development funds channeled into biofuel support (by subsidising industrial plant in rural areas for the transformation of crops to ethanol or biodiesel, presumably), there are steps that need to be taken quickly. It should be noted that the other type of EU funding for biofuel support that is mooted is a transfer of CAP subsidies, broadly speaking, from export to energy. These would be subsidies to farmers, as incentives to grow energy crops.

The US is also subsidising corn-for-ethanol production. Both the US and the EU are under pressure at the WTO, in the Doha Round, to reduce subsidised exports of agricultural surpluses. The EU is already supposed to be reforming the CAP sugar regime (based on sugar beet, an ethanol feedstock) in that direction. So why not redirect the subsidy stream away from exports and satisfy some criticism at the WTO? (Yet another reason for haste in reviewing the Biofuels Directive?)

The supply of feedstocks is crucial to the success of the biofuel strategy. Some of the provisions of the Common Agricultural Policy will therefore be reviewed and adapted if necessary. The expected increase in the world trade in biofuels will also contribute to stability of supply in the EU and other parts of the world.

From An EU Strategy For Biofuels.

Some random remarks:

IF it's a way for the EU to stick a quick patch on the CAP while keeping farms and agri-business happy, it is probably the kind of short-sighted pork-distribution that is the enemy of good policy.
IF it's subsidising (and attracting public and private investment for) distilleries that will transform the same crops as were grown before in unsustainable conditions – maize, wheat, sugar beet – that will do nothing to encourage farmers to quit the same unsustainable practices.
IF it's encouraging farmers to go in for local co-operative oil-mills to transform their own oilseed crops into fuel for their tractors and machines, that would at least have the virtue of beginning to reduce fossil energy inputs into agriculture.
IF meeting obligatory targets means, in fact, importing large volumes of sugar-cane ethanol from Brazil, or palm-oil from Indonesia/Malaysia, that will further encourage the destruction of rainforest and the application of unsustainable agricultural models in emerging agricultural countries.
IF it means offering car manufacturors a green 'n' clean image for free, while they continue to lag behind on their self-set targets re GHG emission reduction, and show no signs of changing market strategy (still speed-sport-power) in favour of lower-consumption models, then it is a scandalous misappropriation of public funds.
IF, despite the unconvincing outlook for first-generation biofuels, the argument is that it is necessary to invest public funds in those fuels in order to pave the way for better second-generation biofuels, then a clear path needs to be shown that leads from one to the other – given that neither the agricultural (type of crop and localisation) nor the industrial (type of plant) implications are the same.

(More remarks to come, if anyone's out there).

Display:
Has a lot of 'packaged' agricultural land - meaning farmers being paid not to cultivate anything. Which seems stupid, until you realise how unadventurous Finnish farmers are. But it is changing, farmers are learning the added value of other crops, once they have discovered that there are infrastructures available to buy these limited demand crops.

But that will still leave a lot of low grade land that could be put to better use, even this far north.

One question: in the process of turning various crops into ethanol, presumably sugar is required? Or does the new process not require natural fermentation? If it does, then sugar beet is a staple Finnish crop.

Hemp and flax are also easy crops for Finland (being weeds basically). Hemp produces more fibre in a shorter growth period than, for instance, birch. It is however difficult to process for paper fibre without pollution. But it produces an excellent and healthy oil - though not suitable for fuel - which has a short shelf life and thus is ideal for decentralized production.

Thanks to our paranoid bureaucrats, the three main types of hemp - oil producing, fibre producing and THC producing or all lumped under 'dangerous substances'. Idiots!

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 02:16:18 PM EST
The unused land is called "set-aside", meaning the farmer is paid to leave it fallow. This was done, from about the early '90s iirc, (1992?) to reduce over-production. All the biofuel plans intend to phase this land in for fuel use.

Sugar -- the high-sugar crops, sugar beet and sugar cane, produce the most ethanol. The cereals need their starch turned to sugar? Traditionally, this is done by malting cereals. You can always add sugar, of course, but that would be introducing yet another energy input.

30 years ago they didn't distinguish between varieties of hemp, and it was freely cultivated (here, at least). I remember a farmer friend baling a field of hemp (like hay) in the heat of the day. He and his eleven-year-old son (who was with him on the tractor) then came to see us laughing their heads off and talking nineteen to the dozen. Pollen in the air, resin all over the place... Really good stuff, in that field.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 03:16:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All in your mind, me duck.

France has been a major source for the long fibre needed to make banknotes and strong archival paper. If its good for fibre, it ain't good for THC. Unless of course they were supplying other markets...

The EU had a 3 year fibre test program in the late Eighties (I think), in which Finland took part - until the local cops decided that they knew better then the EU.

BTW St Petersburg houses the largest seed repository of hemp in the world.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 04:13:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The hemp in question was under contract with a Spanish buyer for rope-making, hence fibre. But it didn't lack a pleasant measure of THC.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 05:06:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I assume that ethanol is produced by the ancient method of fermentation in which a living organism - yeast - feeds on sugar or any carbohydrate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermentation

The more carbohydrates, the more ethanol?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 04:21:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Basically, yes. Fermentation then distillation. I'm not sure, however, of the chemistry of the production of ethanol from second-generation ligno-cellulosic feedstocks. They can do it, but it's not ready to go on-stream yet.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 05:09:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it would be important to have some more detail on the chemistry side of it?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 05:19:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We'd better call in a chemist, then ;)

I don't think it matters from the point of view of EU policy in the immediate. They want to know (or so they say) if they should promote first-generation biofuels more vigorously (this includes making percentages obligatory) and move faster than the 2003 Biofuels Directive stipulated.

I have more to add on this, will probably finish it tomorrow morning.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 05:28:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a bad weekend for chemists ;-)

Even Migu has deserted us, and the Leicester boys are left holding the fort.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 05:33:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The place is empty. Echoing sounds. Eery.

Wonder where Colman keeps his armagnac?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 05:42:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Sam is sleeping on it.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 05:44:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
HELLO Hello HELLO hello hello!

Damn the armagnac, I'm off to bed...it's nearly 01.00 here...

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 05:48:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hello.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 06:53:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dear Leader!

Go and have a good holiday and we'll try not to burn the place down while you're gone ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 07:21:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I haven't said it already - this is sterling work, me duck!

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 05:20:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 05:28:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW Finland is a major innovator in the use of microbes - most paper mills now use outdoor aerated tanks full of microbes to 'digest' the suspended particles in polluted water from the papermaking process.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 04:25:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.energybulletin.net/17974.html

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 07:11:40 PM EST
Thinking out loud and on the run:

  • Biofuels are fine as part of the future energy mix.
  • We need to avoid growing them at the expense of either the environment or food security in Europe.

So:
  • Regulations with teeth to protect the environment are required. No GM, organic growth methods, avoid monoculture. Suggest a massive funded research program involving farmers and extensive field trials - satisfying the need to distribute pork - in order to determine optimal cultivation methods.
  • Let's not pretend that biofuels are the solution - solutions will be patchwork.

I'm with your comments - care to draft a response to the consultation for review now we have background?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 07:04:03 AM EST
I'll try to do that in the course of the afternoon and post here as a comment, since the diary is already long now.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 08:45:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Afew..

You are a master .. really.

OK.. now my take.

Directly to the point.  The key value of your analysis is this:

3100 l ethanol per hectarea maize

All the other data can be checked. Oil consumption in cars I think is very realiable. The amount of grain produced in the EU is also well-known. So it all comes down to this figure.

As you say this value gives roughly a ratio of 15% of oil using the whole land dedicated to maize.

Now, let's us going to make the following assumptions. assume the efficiency of cars is doubled..quite an easy target.

now imagine that we use a high tech crop now in development who triples the output of ethanol or equivalent biodiesel.

With this modification this spetial crop could provide all the biofuel necessary for the whole fleet with the same area dedicated to maize.

So my take is that biofuels should be used from new high-energy yield crops that could probably be found in the literature. Those crops should be very easy to process. This, plus high efficiency cars makes biofuels possible. Otherwise, it is not possible.

So we are dealing with choosing the proper crops and the proper incentives to agriculture and to force fuel efficiency.

We therefore have to give this input to the comission. It is not about the crop who would benefit the big agribusiness but about whcih crop could yield 6000/1000 liters per hectarea  being a very easy and enviromentally simple/fiendly crop.

Which crop?...that is the big question now.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 08:30:02 AM EST
Sorry..obviously I menat 6000/10000 liter per ha

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 08:31:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The figure of 3,100 litres is based on the graph above showing yields of different feedstocks. This is from the Worldwatch Institute's very serious and very recent report, done in co-operation with the German government, which, though pro-sustainable agriculture, is generally favourable to biofuels (so shouldn't be suspected of bias). I have also seen the number of approx 3,100 litres elsewhere, often quoted.

Still, let's have a go at it. (I feel like a bit of fun!)

The American Coalition for Ethanol is an advocacy group all in favour of ethanol and especially corn(maize) ethanol. This is from its FAQ (pdf) :

How many gallons of ethanol can be made from a bushel of corn?
With today's technology, one bushel of corn yields 2.8 gallons of ethanol. And that number is constantly
increasing. Just a few years ago, that number was closer to 2.5 gallons per bushel of corn.
How many bushels of corn are needed for a typical ethanol plant? How many acres of corn would be
needed to satisfy that demand?

An "average" ethanol plant today might be able to produce 50 million gallons of ethanol annually. A plant this size would require approximately 18 million bushels of corn. At the 2004 national corn crop average yield of 140 bushels per acre, approximately 128,500 acres of corn would be needed to supply the ethanol plant.

OK. Got it? Oh, maize crop yields are rather higher in the US than in the EU, so we should just revise the numbers down a bit to find an EU equivalent.

What's wrong? Gosh darn, those numbers are in gallons and bushels and acres. So we'll convert them to litres and tonnes and hectares. But watch out! These are US gallons, not imperial! And US bushels, not British! And acres... No, the acre is the same, roughly 40% of a hectare, multiply acres by 2.5 and you get hectares.

So a US gallon is 3.785 litres. Easy. And a bushel weighs... Nah, a bushel is a dry liquid measure! The weight of a bushel depends on the specific weight of what's measured! (I love this, kc, you're going to be able to develop something for the ongoing "myth and relativity of narrative explanations" meme out of that rational unit of measure that depends on what's measured... Though in fact there's nothing unreasonable about it at all...) So we look up "bushel" in Wikipedia and it tells us a US bushel of corn (maize) can be construed to have an average weight of roughly 25 kg!!!

Let's go:

  • 2.8 gal x 3.785 = 10.6 litres
  • 140 bu/acre x 2.5 = 350 bu/ha
  • 350 bu x 10.6 l = 3710 l/ha

3710 is more than 3100. But it's based on US yields. EU maize yields (dry matter grain) are around 8 tonnes/ha (see 50M tonnes total over 6-6.5M hectares; also my conversations with farmers etc here confirm that number).

  • 8 t / 25 kg = 320 bu/ha
  • 320 bu x 10.6 l = 3392 l/ha

So, taking the numbers from an out-and-out advocacy group, we only get a slightly larger figure for the ethanol yield per hectare. Not enough to change the basic analysis.

Now, if we have to suppose miracle high-energy maize... Well, advocates hint at it, but the truth is there's nothing anywhere near ready to plant. (It would, of course, immediately be inviting GM research.) Frankly, if such varieties were easy to create, they'd already be growing them, because it would increase the energy value of corn flakes, sorry, animal feed.

The truth is the tropics produce higher-energy crops thanks to the sun. And first-generation biofuel crops in Europe are not all that exciting a prospect. Second-generation, maybe.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 10:23:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the acre is the same, roughly 40% of a hectare, multiply acres by 2.5 and you get hectares.
Multiply an acre by 2.5 and you get a hectare, but multiply a number of hectares by 2.5 to get the number of acres.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 10:37:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
140 bu/acre x 2.5 = 350 bu/ha
This is correct, though.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 10:41:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oops, I shouldn't have slipped into the plural! Or said divide. PN points to you!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 11:26:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
PN points? It's a factor of 6 difference if you replace 1/2.5 with 2.5

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 11:31:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
6.25, surely?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 01:43:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can have my PN points.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 02:41:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The truth is the tropics produce higher-energy crops thanks to the sun.
Precisely! Plants are sun-powered chemical machines for turning air and soil into sugar.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 10:39:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Genius.. and time.. .

OK.. the simple question is if first generation plants like rapseed give similar numbers.

Wathc out.. you just need a factor of three to tip the scale. If there is no factor of three in any crop, first-generation out.

Actually I was thinking about second-geneation. I think there should be simple plants or algae allowing for 6000/10000 liters per ha.

So if you can confrim that the others first generation plants give 3000 I would say so in the input requesting inmediately the research and selection of secon generation crops.

This would be my take....becauae I cerainly think that 6000 liters per ha with some non tytpical crop is possible...I do nto know how  enviromentally simple though...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 11:02:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If there is no factor of three in any crop, first-generation out.

That is science fiction, isn't it? Considering that crops (domesticated plants) have been bred for thousands of years to increase nutrient yield, I doubt you can hope for a super corn or anything like that [unless you genetically engineer corn to use all the energy it puts into growing a 2m long stalk into making more kernels...

Really, the question here is whether it is reasonable for the EU to aim for 5% ethanol/biodiesel by the end of the decade. What is the environmental impact? WHat is the land use impact?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 11:30:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Migeru's right, and I generally think there is no great interest in 1st-generation (for the EU) beyond fixing a CAP/WTO problem for the next ten years.

Unfortunately, for all I have read, it has only been over a fortnight and there are a large number of aspects I have simply laid aside for lack of time. (Or expert knowledge). So I don't have all the numbers on every crop at my fingertips.

If, by a factor of three, you mean multiplying the energy yield from the sun (not, of course, as a result of adding energy inputs such as more fertilser) by three, I think I can say it's not on in any foreseeable future, and not even with GMs. (GMs generally offer pretty modest advantages, linked of course to chemicals etc). A GM (or X-breed) that would suddenly triple its energy storage without increase of non-solar energy inputs would be a revolution we would be hearing about, and hearing about, imho. Its first application would surely be food, which brings us back to Point A: we should be producing food rather than vehicle fuel.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 12:03:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
.. yes You are right.

But I wil not be so sure with algae or with some oter very siple organism..wher the quantity of area needed will be much more lower. this is, the crops we are talking take a lot of space per unit energy.

So... I think that if you number are rigth.. I will be for looking into these alternative organisms...

By the way.. it wa actually close to 15 % a factor of 3 plus doubling efficiency of cars makes it 90%...so enough for a very goof fleat.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 06:02:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I found this page on algae. It contains calculations similar to the ones we have been engaging in regarding fuel use and land use.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 07:00:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, wrong link. Try this one instead.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 07:01:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
..so it seems second generation is certainly a possibility.

Do we include it in the input?

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 04:45:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, as R+D. But not before 2010 and possibly only on an experimental basis (though the EU could fund large-scale experiments) in 2010-2020.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 05:23:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Factor of three -- also don't forget we're counting here on only a 10% contribution from biofuels...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 02:01:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought it would be useful to look at the stories the EU told itself back in 2003 when they convinced themselves of the necessity of encouraging biofuels. The 2003 directive [Google HTML conversion of this PDF original] has 29 reasons why biofuels should  be promoted ("whereases"). Here they are in soundbite form:
1 The Göteborg European Council of June 2001 included biofuels in the EU's strategy for sustainable development
2 Fossil fuels are leading sources of CO2 emissions
3 Biomass could be a source of fuel
4 Transportation accounts for 30% of EU energy consumption (and increasing)
5 The Commission's white paper on Transport policy for 2010 expects CO2 emissions from transport to increase by 50% between 1990 and 2010, of which 84% is due to road transport, which uses 98% fossil fuels.
6 biofuels for transport can help meet Kyoto targets
7 biofuels for transport can reduce dependence on foreign sources of energy
8 biofuel blends can already be used by existing vehicles.
9 higher biofuel blends could be used in public transportation ("captive" fleets)
10 promoting biofuels will encourage biomass use and so research into further applications
11 hydrogen research should be promoted alongside biofuels [???]
12 biodiesel from vegetable oils exists
13 biofuels should not be allowed to negatively impinge on emissions standards
14 biofuels should not negatively affect engine performance
15 sustainable biofuels would allow sustainable rural development under the CAP
16 On 8 June 1998 the Council endorsed the Commissions strategy on renewable energy and asked for biofuels
17 The Commission's green paper on securty of energy supply calls for 20% alternative fuels by 2020
18 Biofuels need to be available and competitive [presumably this is a justification for subsidies?]
19 On 18 June 1998 the EP asked for 2% biofuels over 5 years
20 We don't know what the best way to promote biofuels is
21 National biofuels programmes should not infringe on the common market
22 Energy security, greenhouse gases, usable already, distribution savings [escept for the latter, isn't this just repeating othe points?]
23 The member states by themselves may not be able to achieve the 5% target by 2010, so the EU may act by itself [i.e., subsidiarity allows EU action in this case]
24 R+D in biofuels should be promoted [why? dunno]
25 the economic, environmental and social impact of an increase in biofuel use should be studied [presumably, as it reaches 5% by 2010, to decide where to go from there]
26 the regulatory framework should be flexible to react quickly to new technological [including agricultural] developments.
27 the regulatory framework should be developed quickly to ansure biofuels don't damage engines
28 [incoherent mess on] security of supply, environment, and publicity
29 [irrelevant EU legalese]
Who writes this stuff? This is a confused mess, but it basically boils down to:
1 reducing carbon emissions
2 reducing dependence on foreign oil and gas
3 not compromising on emission standards
4 not compromising on technical standards for engine performance
5 encouraging rural development under the CAP

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 11:18:25 AM EST
My head was already hurting.

Here's a simpler bit from the Consultation document:

Apart from the potential benefits for rural areas, the EU is supporting biofuels for two main reasons: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in transport and to improve the security of energy supply.

I was thinking of taking that as a basis for a response to the 1st question: Is the objective of promoting biofuels still valid?

I haven't got a draft together yet. Do you think "by 10th July" is inclusive, or means we have to put in before midnight tonight failing which we will turn into  pumpkins?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 11:46:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it should be inclusive. I'd aim at submitting it by noon tomorrow (Brussels time).

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 11:50:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Remember all the questions from the consultation document:
1.1: Is the objective of promoting biofuels still valid?
2.1: With existing policies and measures, will biofuels achieve a market share of 5.75% in the European Union by the end of 2010? (Please give reasons for your answer)
2.2: What are the main factors favouring the development of biofuel use in the EU? What are the main obstacles?
3.1: Looking towards 2010, is the present European system of indicative targets and support for biofuels appropriate or does it need to be changed??
[list of options for adapting the system of targets and support for the period up to 2010]
3.2 What are your views on the advantages and disadvantages of the options described insection 3.2 of this paper?
3.3 How should the option(s) you favour be put into practice?
3.4 Should other options than those in section 3.2 be considered?
3.5 If your preferred option(s) would have implications for granting taxreductions/exemptions for biofuels, for example if these fiscal measures had to beprohibited, would that change your answer?
3.6 Should Member States be able to provide tax reductions/exemptions and lay down biofuels obligations at the same time - or should it be "one or the other"?
4.1: Should there be a system - for example, a system of certificates - to ensure that biofuelshave been made from raw materials whose cultivation meets minimum environmental standards?
4.2: Should a wider system of certificates be introduced, indicating the greenhouse gas and/or security of supply impact of each type of biofuel?
4.3: Should there be a scheme to reward second-generation biofuels (made with processesthat can accept a wider range of biomass)16within biofuel support systems?
5.1: Should the EU continue acting in favour of biofuels after 2010?
5.2: If the EU is to continue acting in favour of biofuels after 2010, should this action include or exclude the definition of a quantified target for biofuels?
5.3: Should EU action include the following measures (which could be pursued withoutdefining a quantified target): [list of measures]
5.4:If the EU is to define a quantified target for biofuels after 2010, what should it be? What year(s) should it relate to - 2015? 2020? Both?
5.5:If the EU is to define a quantified target for biofuels after 2010?
5.6: If the EU is to define a quantified target for biofuels after 2010, should this remain a purely political step (accompanied by monitoring) or should it be given concrete form?
6. A number of more technical issues

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 12:07:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We don't have to offer an answer to all of them.

Do you think it would be easier to answer point by point, or draft a general text answering the first question?

Frankly, we don't have much time.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 01:16:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
refers to fuel cell research

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 12:01:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently the EU could get at least 5000 litres of bioethanol per hectare by growing sugar beet?

Afew, you knew quite a lot about the EU's sugar regime. Can you redo the maize calculation with sugar beet instead?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 11:39:27 AM EST
I haven't looked into it, (the ethanol calculation), but I can try. I'll dig some stuff out about sugar beet production.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 11:49:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the EU turned its entire sugar beet production into biofuels, what impact would it have on the sugar regime? Did you ever get around to writing that diary on sugar reform?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 11:51:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
according to this FAO site chart

http://www.fao.org/docrep/007/j3877e/j3877e12.htm

Europe sugar production 2004/5 was 21.8 million tons

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 12:06:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I gave up on sugar reform, there was just too much stuff to cover to write about it properly.

I understood the first question and will try to reply.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 12:07:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the EU turned all its sugar beet production into ethanol, there would be no sugar regime and we would have to import, at a rough guess, 15m t of refined sugar a year. Or do without sugar and be healthier. (What would I do for jam?)

If the EU were to do this, however, this is the ethanol reckoning:

Total sugar beet area 2005-6 = 2.1m ha (so about a third of maize)

2.1m x 5000 l = 10.5 bn litres ethanol

10.5 bn x 10 (10%) = 105bn litres E10.

To be compared to above calculation of 164bn litres petrol used in EU-25.

Sven's FAO figure above gives a rough idea of sugar exports, 21 - 15 = 6 million tonnes. About 28%. Supposing 28% were turned into ethanol:

105 x 28% = 29.4bn litres E10 (out of approx consumption of 164bn l)

So sugar beet isn't a magic bullet either.

Also, from a sustainability point of view, it's as bad or worse than maize. Irrigation, pollution, soil destruction, etc. And beets can't be grown just anywhere -- they need good quality alluvial soils.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 01:13:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to the US Department of Agriculture (PDF), wheat and barley areas in the EU-25 are 13.4M ha (wheat) and 23M ha (barley). At 2500 l/ha (wheat) and 1000 l/ha (barley), converting the entire wheat and barley production into ethanol feedstock one would obtain  33.5bn l of wheat ethanol and 23bn l of barley ethanol.

Conclusion:
EU petrol consumption: 164 Gl (gigalitre: billion litres) per year.
EU sugarbeet ethanol: up to 10.5 Gl
EU maize ethanol: up to 19 Gl
EU wheat ethanol: up to 33.5 Gl
EU barley ethanol: up to 23 Gl

Total bioethanol at current land use: 86 Gl (58 Gl petrol energy equivalent)

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 03:51:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here are the EU stats up to 2004. The US figures are for 2003, I think. But that doesn't greatly change the overall picture. Using all the agricultural area occupied by maize, sugar beet, wheat, and barley would supply approx E30 for current petrol consumption. So presumably it would take one third of that area to produce enough E10, which is the target the Commission is talking about for some later date.

Until second-generation biofuels are fully researched, confirmed, and brought on-stream, it doesn't look as if first-generation fuels are going to be able to make a contribution. As far as ethanol goes, anyway.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 04:39:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are two questions: is the goal of reaching 6% market share for biofuels by 2010 realistic, and what should be the policy for 2010-2020 (and is the goal of using 20% biofuels [see the "reasons reappraised"] realistic?).

An equal volume of E6 has (94% petrol, 6% ethanol) has 98% the energy of petrol. 164 Gl energy equivalent petrol corresponds to 157 Gl petrol and 10 Gl ethanol. This is the entire sugarbeet ethanol potential, or 12% of the total (sugarbeet, maize, wheat, barley) ethanol potential.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 05:03:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The total petrol consumption of the EU-25 is given by Eurostat  (for 2002) as
5,242,160 terajoules
Taking the energy content of a litre of petrol at 32 megajoules, we get approx.
164, 000 M litres of petrol consumed in the EU-25.
Eurostat also gives   6,635,686 TJ diesel and 40,052 TJ biofuels.

This page gives energy densities of 10.9KWh/l for diesel and 9.7Kwh/l for gasoline, that is 39 MJ/l for diesel and 34.9 MJ/l for gasoline [10% off your 32 MJ/l]. The EU's transportation fuel consumption in 2002 was, therefore, 150 Gl petrol and 170 Gl diesel. Biodiesel has, according to Worldwatch, a much lower yield than bioethanol: 1000 l/ha for rapeseed is about the same as the yield for barley. It seems that to reach a 6% share of biofuels, it is most efficient in terms of land use to concentrate on bioethanol. 6% of the 2002 consumption is 715074 TJ or 32 Gl ethanol (@ 6.1KWh/ = 22 MJ/l). This is about the entire EU25 wheat ethanol potential, or  37% of the total ethanol potential.

The transportation fuel problem needs to be tackled on the demand side.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 05:42:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Energy density of petrol: there are many differing statistics given. I even saw one that was > 40 Mj/l.

I took 32 Mj/l from Wikipedia. It corresponds to ethanol at 21 Mj/l, or approx 66% of petrol, which is the proportion given pretty much everywhere.

I don't think a few % matter anyway. The EU doesn't have the spare capacity to produce enough ethanol. (See my soon-to-come comment below). (Some useful biodiesel mainly for farming and maybe public vehicle fleets is possible). So I agree with your conclusion.

I don't think, btw, that it is useful or necessary to show our reckonings in a submission to the Consultation. We need to thresh things out enough to be sure of what we think, and that we have a solid basis.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 03:12:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Energy density of petrol: there are many differing statistics given. I even saw one that was > 40 Mj/l.

From the link I found on energy density:

The numbers compiled here varied a bit - the definition of gasoline and diesel is not precise; Gasoline and diesel fuel are a mixture of about 100 different molecules who's ratios vary from batch to batch. Diesel fuel should be very similar to gasoline.
Which makes sense, there are lots of different fuel grades being given the same name.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 06:26:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, did you see a dependable statistic anywhere for total EU petrol (diesel, biofuel) consumption in litres rather than diverse energy units? I haven't found one.

(And Eurostat keeps giving me problems with its design your own tables software, it tells me it's downloading when it isn't, or it sends empty pages, or it does test redirects that go nowhere... :{ )

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 04:50:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Energy units are better, because to compare different fuels you need to use homogeneous units, and what matters in the end is calorific capacity.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 05:24:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
RAPE SEED OIL FOR TRANSPORT 1: ENERGY BALANCE AND CO2 BALANCE
No matter whether gross or net calculations are used, and no matter whether the contribution from the rape cakes is included or excluded, the conclusion is that the energy balance is strongly positive.

RAPE SEED OIL FOR TRANSPORT 2: AGRICULTURE AND ENERGY

Today, agriculture has a gross energy consumption which in fact is more than twice the existing energy production from agricultural biomass...........
.....With conventional cultivation of winter rape, the total fuel consumption of the Danish agricultural industry could be covered on a good 10% of the agricultural area along with covering 20% of the protein fodder consumption and 81% of agriculture's total gross energy consumption.

NOTE: RAPE SEED OIL FOR TRANSPORT 3: ORGANIC RAPE CULTIVATION IS REALITY

From a general consideration of sustainability, it would be natural to run agriculture, and especially organic agriculture, without a resulting use of energy, i.e. with a positive energy balance.
However, presently the agricultural industry has a negative energy balance with a gross energy consumption which is more than twice the existing energy production from agricultural biomass; especially there is no energy production to outbalance the agricultural diesel consumption.

Sidenote:

In 1930, 25% of the Danish arable land was used to feed the workhorses.


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 12:25:40 PM EST
Thanks, ElcoB. I'd read some of this reported elsewhere. It seems a bit optimistic to me, but I'm not against developing biodiesel from rapeseed, and certainly not against organic culture.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 04:49:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
..the key number as always now is liters of biofuel per ha for the rapeseed.

6000 liters per ha is the threshold I would put to go forward.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 06:05:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No hope. Rapeseed gives somewhat more than 1000l/ha.

But it's a winter crop, fits into a rotation and is not therefore usually monocropped. There's a GM danger, (it has been considerably worked on by Monsanto et al), but otherwise it could be more sustainable than maize or sugar beet.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 03:17:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me start with one of the questions from the consultation document:
2.1: With existing policies and measures, will biofuels achieve a market share of 5.75% in the European Union by the end of 2010? (Please give reasons for your answer)
It is possible, but doubtful. According to EuroStat, EU25 transportation fuel consumption in 2002 was 11.9 e6 TJ. As bioethanol feedstocks have a higher energy yield per hectare than biodiesel, one could minimize the impact of adopting biofuels on arable land use by concentrating the effort on bioethanol. 5.75% of 2002 fuel use is 0.69 e6 TJ or 31 e9 l of ethanol (at 6.1 KWh/l = 22 MJ/l). This should be compared with an estimated 10.5 e9 l of ethanol potential from the current EU25 cultivated area of sugar beet (2.1 e6 ha @ 5000 l/ha), an estimated 19 e9 l of maize ethanol potential (from 6.5 e6 ha @ 3100 l/ha), or 33.5 e9 l of wheat ethanol potential (from 13.4 e6 ha @ 2500 l/ha) or, finally, 23 e9 l of barley ethanol potential (from 23 e6 ha @ 1000 l/ha).

A possibility that should be explored in earnest is the encouragement (with mandatory targets) of the recycling of cooking oil into biodiesel, given that rapeseed oil (the most promising oil crop in the EU) has a paltry 1000 l/ha of biodiesel yield, and that dumping used cooking oil is more harmful for the nevironment than efficient burning in a diesel engine.
5.1: Should the EU continue acting in favour of biofuels after 2010?
Yes, it should, but more as a stop-gap measure against the economic effects of the inability of petroleum suppliers to keep up with growing global demand.
5.2: If the EU is to continue acting in favour of biofuels after 2010, should this action include or exclude the definition of a quantified target for biofuels?
If oil supply does plateau at 2006 levels while global demand keeps pushing oil prices up, it will become economical to use biofuels and then EU support will be unnecessary. Moderate support should be given up to that point, to ensure that a substitute is in place. However, according to the land use calculations of answer 2.1, it seems unrealistic to increase the target share above 6%. A minimum level of 6% might be imposed by, for instance, requiring all gasoline to be an E10 mix, and encouraging biodiesel from recycled cooking oil.  

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 06:28:17 PM EST
1.1: Is the objective of promoting biofuels still valid?
Yes, because of peak oil. However, land use considerations (see question 2.1 for details) indicate that first-generation biofuels cannot hope to replace a large fraction of petroleum-based fuels without serious impacts on the environment and on food production. The EU needs to start looking at transportation fuel as a demand problem, not a supply problem. What this means is discouraging road transport in favour of waterways and railways, and promoting public transportation by light-rail or electrified vehicles in urban areas.

With intensive farming methods currently requiring substantial fossil fuel inputs, biofuels do not seem like a cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Even if not actively promoting biofuels, the EU should ensure that the technical regulatory framework for transportation fuels does not unfairly favour fossil fuels over biofuels.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 9th, 2006 at 06:43:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What this means is discouraging road transport in favour of waterways and railways, and promoting public transportation by light-rail or electrified vehicles in urban areas.

It also means taking energy efficiency much more seriously than to date. The notion that we can all go on consuming liquid fuels as in the past, because biofuels will phase in and take up the petroleum slack, is a feelgood fallacy that needs to be actively discouraged. Car manufacturers must work rapidly towards decreasing fuel consumption as well as decreasing GHG emissions per litre consumed. Currently, the car industry is not meeting its own targets on these issues. If the EU is to use the tool of obligation, this is the first and most vital area in which obligation should be applied.

The Commission, in its dual concern with reducing GHG emissions and promoting energy security, should first and foremost be considering the demand side. Lower pollution and higher energy independence result from reduced consumption.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 04:43:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Like Colman said above, regulations with teeth.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 05:24:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
reducing "GHG emission per litre consumed" should be "per litre of petroleum-based fuel consumed".

(Meaning any GHG gains from use of biofuel should not accrue to the car industry's credit).

The final sentence might better be:

The key to lower pollution and higher energy independence is reduced consumption.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 05:29:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As this is being done by the transportation directorate, it would be important to emphasize the need for a new transportation policy. We should have a look at the 2010 white (green?) paper on transportation (subtitled "time to decide").

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 05:32:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm proposing to add to what you wrote about transport policy, not to replace it.

The DG is TREN, Transport and Energy.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 06:03:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Along the lines of the sugar beet calculations above, that estimate a rough 28% (say 30%) of total production exported, I took a look at the other ethanol crops.

First I got confirmation on sugar. If we stopped exporting (big if because sugar is yet another commodity in super-high demand on world markets), we might redirect about 30% of current sugar beet production towards ethanol.

Next, maize.
The cereal supply balance tables are weird when they move to 2004 and the enlargement (some special accountancy for exports occurs), but it's easy to see from EU-15 numbers in previous years that the EU-15 is not quite self-sufficient in maize (around 2 Mt import, which I think is the contractual obligation of Portugal and Spain towards the US, negotiated on their entry). The EU-25 numbers given, anyway, are:

  • total production 50.4 Mt
  • internal use.....50.3 Mt
  • self-suffiency...100.2%

In other words, there is no spare capacity in maize. Any significant ethanol production would have to come from either increased area of production, or decreased use in animal feed.

Wheat. (I didn't include durum wheat, it's for human consumption mostly, and is a secondary crop.) Common wheat figures are:

  • total production 114.9 Mt
  • internal use.....104.9 Mt
  • self-sufficiency 109%

9% spare capacity (10 Mt) could be diverted to ethanol.

Barley numbers are:

  • total production 56 Mt
  • internal use.....49.9 Mt
  • self-sufficiency 112.6%

About 13% (6 Mt) could be diverted to ethanol production.

So, with the exception of sugar beet, the spare capacity isn't there in any significant amount.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 03:45:59 AM EST
Applying these surplus percentages to total potential ethanol production as calculated above by Migeru, we get:

  • 30% sugar beet: 10.5 Gl x 30% = 3.15 Gl ethanol
  • 9% wheat:.......33.5 Gl x 9% = 3 Gl
  • 13% barley: ....23 Gl x 13% = 3 Gl

Rounded total potential ethanol production from surplus:

9 Gl

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 04:15:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
9 Gl ethanol = 6 Gl petrol energy equivalent

Add that to the 164 Gl of petrol and you get 173 Gl of E6 (9 Gl is 5.78% of 173 Gl), with a 170 Gl petrol energy equivalent. Therefore: the entire beet, maize, wheat and barley spare production (given export figures) would be just about sufficient to reach the 5.75% target of biofuel market share, and that's only on the petrol/ethanol side. We don't have figires for biodiesel but it seems that unless cooking (and maybe motor) oil is recycled massively, the target won't be reached on that side either.

So, change my input to say that the 2003 targets (5.75% market share) is not realistic unless a substantial amount of ethanol feedstock is diverted away from animal feed and into biofuels. Importing biofuel feedstocks or ethanol does not improve energy security.

The chickens are coming home to roost: it is not only the end of cheap energy, but of cheap meat.


Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 05:30:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have been thinking an active tax policy should be used to discourage any increase in fossil fuel consumption. Say, if the EU imports 3% more fossil fuels one year than the next, slap on a 3% increse in tax. This could be done on a fuel-by-fuel basis. So, if aviation fuel is the fastest growing fuel (just for the sake of argument) it would see the largest tax increase year-on-year. This tax should go to the EU directly, not the member states, and be earmarked for non-fossil-fuel transportation R+D and infrastructure.

But this is part of a broader transportation energy policy and beyond the scope of this consultation.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 05:41:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They do consider taxation (or relief) as part of an active policy. There's no reason not to say that fossil fuels should be taxed.

Starting with aircraft fuel, and agricultural (with incentives to switch to home-grown biodiesel, no tax on that).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 05:52:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Whether you add it to the 164 Gl or calculate 5.75% of 164 Gl, you can say the 5.75% target is possible:

if all surpluses are transformed into ethanol.

By 2010? I don't think it will happen.

After that, where is the growth potential? Only, as you say, in transforming one cheap-energy glut consumption into another. You'll get to drive your car to the supermarket only to find no cheap chicken or vast rows of yoghourt.

Either that, or unsustainable farming methods, or massive food imports.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 05:45:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What fraction of internal use is for animal feed?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 05:49:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  • maize 82%
  • wheat 47%
  • barley 66%

Sugar beet pulp is also used for animal feed, I'll see if I can find that.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 05:58:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sugar is not clear, they say 2 Mt of white sugar in animal feed, which is weird but possible. (expensive).

I haven't got a number for sugar pulp (by-product) use in animal feed. No time to get one now.

The main thing is animal feed is the principal use of maize and barley, and common wheat for about half.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 06:07:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, this is very interesting.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 06:10:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
maize: 82% of 19 Gl = 15.5 Gl
wheat: 47% of 33.5 Gl = 15.5 Gl
barley: 66% of 23 Gl = 15 Gl

Now isn't that interesting?

I think the EU agricultural sector is in for a shakeup.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 06:19:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I doubt it. Reducing beef and dairy gradually is on the cards anyway. Otherwise agri-business is not ready to change sectors and modes of production that fast. It would take a decade or two to switch those volumes from animals to ethanol.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 06:38:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That was going to be my question as well.

The sound bite: "to reach energy security: let's stop eating meat"

(I still have that example from somewhere - but I don't know if it's true - that you actually use more oil going somewhere by bike than by car if you have eaten meat only, because so many oil calories are needed to get a calorie in your food (7 to 1 or something)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 06:13:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rapeseed
  • total area: 4.5 Mha
  • yield : 1100l/ha
  • 4.5 x 1100 = 5 Gl biodiesel

Sunflower
  • total area: 2.2 Mha
  • yield: 1000l/ha
  • 2.2 x 1000 = 2.2 Gl biodiesel

Total biodiesel from crops:  7.2 Gl
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 06:23:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rapeseed is given at 100% self-sufficiency, meaning all oil production is used within the EU, no surplus.

Sunflower seed has 109% self-sufficiency.

Not much room for an increase without greatly increasing area. Replacing what?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 06:29:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But al large fraction of the oil could be recycled. Double bang for the buck.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 06:31:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to my calculation above, diesel consumption was about 170 Gl per year. 7.2 Gl is 4% of 177 Gl. Biodiesel by itself won't be able to attain the 5.75% share even if all the oil is recycled. [How about olive oil? In Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece a lot of it is used for cooking and could be recycled]

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 06:34:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
7.2 Gl is the total current production, not the share available for biodiesel. Some of current production must go into biodiesel, but it's marginal. To get to 5.75% biodiesel, there would have to be very considerable increase in area. At some other crop's expense.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 07:33:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is the deadline...

Are you going to send the answers you have above plus the generalities of the first diary?

Regarding the answers int he previous entry... I will jsut add a line encouraging second generation crops. Developoing a policy about its use and  implementation in a five-ten years frame...

Other than that....good work. As far as I am concerned.... if you speak in the name of ET to the comission I am more than happy about it. DO you need any other input before sending it?

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 04:51:50 AM EST
I agree about mentioning promotion of second-generation biofuels.

More input, certainly if you can do it. I'm not sure what we're putting in or when for the moment. We need some new discussion with Migeru.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 05:32:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you need to discuss with me in the next, say 15 minutes? (at work, will be off shortly and just reading but writing sporadically or not at all).

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 05:33:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I haven't got a significant draft proposal yet. If I'm to write the whole thing, I'm not going to answer all the questions.

I was hoping for more discussion of the main first question. I'm not sure there's time for drafting much more.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 05:49:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We don't have to answer all the questions, but it is good if bits and pieces of our reply can be framed as answers to the rest of the questions and not just the first one. They can all be summarized in the first question along with the bits that only fit there.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 05:50:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can do eitherput it directly.. becaue I trust you..and everybody invlved was already involvedand had his say..or you just canput it as a diary before putting it into the web-page to ask for general opinion so that people can wrtie down specific changes so that you donto have to domore work.

Up to you how to do it...but I think you will do it greatly. Whatever you decide.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 07:09:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok, I'll be off now. May the force be with you.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 06:45:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When (if) I get a draft together in time, do we submit as an NGO?

Or do I submit as a private citizen (Contributing Editor, European Tribune, www.eurotrib.com)?

(The categories are NGO; Industry; Private Citizen.)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 08:35:33 AM EST
PS a number of the Private Citizens texts are copy-pastes of well-meaning environmental protest about rainforest damage.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 08:43:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Private Citizen, non?

You can say "Joe Citizen on behalf of the editors of ET".

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 08:54:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can anyone pick holes in this, fast? Especially the maths, I treated ethanol and diesel separately and redid the numbers.

Question 1.1:
Is the objective of promoting biofuels still valid?

In a broad sense, yes, since petroleum-based fuels pose greater environmental problems, and supply in the future will become increasingly strained and at correspondingly increasing cost.

However, a distinction needs to be made between types of biofuel and their sources.

1)    An EU promotion system that implied large-scale biofuel imports from tropical/sub-tropical zone producers (sugar-cane ethanol/ palm oil for biodiesel) would be exchanging one form of energy insecurity for another, and encouraging rainforest clearance and unsustainable plantation practices;
2)    First-generation biofuels run up against a problem of land use (see Question 2.1 for details), of food production, and of the risk of continuing or exacerbating unsustainable agricultural practices. With intensive farming methods currently requiring substantial fossil fuel inputs, first-generation biofuels do not seem like a cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
3)    Second-generation biofuels, involving non-food feedstocks cultivated on other land than the best arable and by sustainable methods, and obtaining a better fossil energy balance than first-generation biofuels, show considerable potential, though they are not yet ready to come on-stream.

It follows that promotion of biofuels is a mid- to long-term proposition, and should essentially concentrate on support for second-generation fuels. Imports or food-crop use subsidized by the CAP are not a viable overall solution. The EU should resist pressure from interested agri-business groups to divert a large funding stream into first-generation biofuels.

The EU, in its dual concern with reducing GHG emissions and promoting energy security, should first and foremost see transport fuel as a demand problem rather than a supply problem. This means discouraging road and air transport in favour of railways and waterways, and promoting public transport by light rail or electrified vehicles in urban areas.

It also means taking energy efficiency much more seriously than to date. The notion that we can all go on consuming liquid fuels as in the past, because biofuels will phase in and take up the petroleum slack, is a feelgood fallacy that needs to be actively discouraged. Car manufacturers must work rapidly towards decreasing fuel consumption as well as decreasing GHG emissions per unit of fossil energy consumed. Currently, the car industry is not meeting its own targets on these issues. If the EU is to use the tool of obligation, this is the first and most vital area in which obligation should be applied.

The key to lower pollution and greater energy independence is reduced consumption.

Question 2.1:
With existing policies and measures, will biofuels achieve a market share of 5.75% in the
European Union by the end of 2010? (Please give reasons for your answer)

This target seems attainable only by either:
·    major transfers of arable land from food to ethanol/biodiesel;
·    or a major diversion of food crops (maize, wheat, barley) from animal feed to biofuel production, with a corresponding fall in meat and dairy production;
·    or large import volumes of either biofuels or animal feed.

According to Eurostat, transport fuel consumption for 2002 in the EU-25 was :
petrol, 5.2 e6 TJ ; diesel, 6.6 e6 TJ.
5.75% of these gives:
petrol, 0.3 e6 TJ ; diesel, 0.38 e6 TJ
Ethanol : 0.3 e6 TJ petrol  / 22 MJ/l = 13.6 e9 l
Biodiesel: 0.38 e6 TJ diesel / 34 MJ/l = 11.2 e9 l
If all the area currently consecrated to potential ethanol feedstocks were used for ethanol, production could be an estimated:
·    10.5 e9 l of ethanol potential from the current EU-25 cultivated area of sugar beet (2.1 e6 ha @ 5000 l/ha)
·    19 e9 l of maize ethanol potential (from 6.5 e6 ha @ 3100 l/ha)
·     33.5 e9 l of common wheat ethanol potential (from 13.4 e6 ha @ 2500 l/ha)
·     23 e9 l of barley ethanol potential (from 23 e6 ha @ 1000 l/ha).
If only the surplus percentage of these crops were to be used, the estimates would be:
·    30% sugar beet: 10.5 e9 l x 30% = 3.15 e9 l ethanol
·    9% wheat: 33.5 e9 l x 9% = 3 e9 l
·    3% barley: 23 e9 l x 3% = 3 e9 l
Surplus production (9 e9 l ethanol) would not suffice to cover the needed 13.6 e9 l. Only an extension of the area of ethanol feedstock crops, or a transfer of crops from animal feed to ethanol, would cover needs.

As for biodiesel, the total area of the two principal feedstocks, rapeseed and sunflower seed, would produce an estimated:

·    5 e9 l from rapeseed (4.5 e6 ha x 1100 l);
·    2.2 e9 l from sunflower (2.2 e6 ha x 1000l)

Total production would not suffice to cover the needed 11.2 e9 l.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 11:20:49 AM EST
Excellent, thanks!

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 11:24:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't say "area consecrated to", say "dedicated to" or "set aside for".

You spend too much time in France ;-)

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 11:28:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
French influence! But "set aside" has a specific meaning in CAP jargon, it's subsidised non-productive arable (fallow). I put "dedicated".
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 11:43:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
explain that "surplus" is estimated from export figures.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 11:29:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nitpicking on units...

In the biodiesel calculation, say 1100 l/ha and 1000 l/ha, not just l.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 11:32:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
3% barley: 23 e9 l x 3% = 3 e9 l

surplus is 13%, not 3%

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 11:37:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks good. I haven't been able to follow this closely enough to follow the numbers.

My suggested changes below: [x] means delete x, [x][y] replaces x with [y], [][][comment] is a comment.


Question 1.1:
Is the objective of promoting biofuels still valid?

In a broad sense, yes, since petroleum-based fuels pose greater environmental problems[,] and supply in the future will become increasingly strained and [at correspondingly increasing cost] increasingly expensive.

However, a distinction needs to be made between types of biofuel and their sources.

  1.    An EU promotion system that implied large-scale biofuel imports from tropical [][or] sub-tropical zone producers of sugar-cane ethanol or palm oil for biodiesel would  exchang[ing]e one form of energy insecurity for another, and encourag[ing]e rainforest clearance and unsustainable plantation practices;
  2.    First-generation biofuels run up against a problem of land use (see Question 2.1 for details), of food production[,] and of the risk of continuing or exacerbating unsustainable agricultural practices. [With][Since] intensive farming methods currently requir[ing] substantial fossil fuel inputs, first-generation biofuels do not seem like a cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  3.    Second-generation biofuels, [involving][based on] non-food feedstocks cultivated on [other][marginal] land  [than the best arable land]  by sustainable methods and [obtaining][with] a better fossil energy balance than first-generation biofuels, show considerable potential[, though they are not yet ready to come on-stream][for the future].

It follows that promotion of biofuels is a mid- to long-term proposition, and should [essentially] concentrate on support for second-generation fuels. Imports or food-crop use subsidized by the CAP are not a viable overall solution. The EU should resist pressure from interested agri-business groups to divert a large funding stream into first-generation biofuels.

The EU, [in][with] its dual concern with reducing GHG emissions and promoting energy security, should first and foremost see [][future provision of] transport fuel as a demand problem rather than a supply problem. This means discouraging road and air transport in favour of railways and waterways, and promoting public transport by light rail or electrified vehicles in urban areas.

It also means taking energy efficiency much more seriously than [to date][we have]. The notion that we can all go on consuming liquid fuels as in the past, because biofuels will phase in and take up the petroleum slack, is a feel[][-]good fallacy that needs to be actively discouraged. Car manufacturers must work rapidly towards decreasing fuel consumption as well as decreasing GHG emissions per unit of fossil energy consumed. Currently, the car industry is not meeting its own targets on these issues. If the EU is to use the tool of obligation[][][regulation? compulsion?], this is the first and most vital area in which obligation[][][likewise!!] should be applied.

The key to lower pollution and greater energy independence is reduced consumption.

Question 2.1:
With existing policies and measures, will biofuels achieve a market share of 5.75% in the
European Union by the end of 2010? (Please give reasons for your answer)

This target seems attainable only by either:
·    major transfers of arable land from food to ethanol or biodiesel;
·    [or] a major diversion of food crops (maize, wheat, barley) from animal feed to biofuel production, with a corresponding fall in meat and dairy production;
·    [or] large import volumes of either biofuels or animal feed.
[][][these are all and/or surely?]

According to Eurostat, transport fuel consumption for 2002 in the EU-25 was :
petrol, 5.2 e6 TJ ; diesel, 6.6 e6 TJ.
5.75% of these gives:
petrol, 0.3 e6 TJ ; diesel, 0.38 e6 TJ
Ethanol : 0.3 e6 TJ petrol  / 22 MJ/l = 13.6 e9 l
Biodiesel: 0.38 e6 TJ diesel / 34 MJ/l = 11.2 e9 l

If all the area currently [consecrated to][used for] potential ethanol feedstocks were used for ethanol, production could be an estimated:
·    10.5 e9 l of ethanol potential from the current EU-25 cultivated area of sugar beet (2.1 e6 ha @ 5000 l/ha)
·    19 e9 l of maize ethanol potential (from 6.5 e6 ha @ 3100 l/ha)
·     33.5 e9 l of common wheat ethanol potential (from 13.4 e6 ha @ 2500 l/ha)
·     23 e9 l of barley ethanol potential (from 23 e6 ha @ 1000 l/ha).

If only the surplus percentage of these crops were to be used, the estimates would be:
·    30% sugar beet: 10.5 e9 l x 30% = 3.15 e9 l ethanol
·    9% wheat: 33.5 e9 l x 9% = 3 e9 l
·    3% barley: 23 e9 l x 3% = 3 e9 l
Surplus production (9 e9 l ethanol) would not suffice to cover the needed 13.6 e9 l. Only an extension of the area of ethanol feedstock crops, or a transfer of crops from animal feed to ethanol, would cover needs.

As for biodiesel, the total area of the two principal feedstocks, rapeseed and sunflower seed, would produce an estimated:

·    5 e9 l from rapeseed (4.5 e6 ha x 1100 l);
·    2.2 e9 l from sunflower (2.2 e6 ha x 1000l)

Total production would not suffice to cover the needed 11.2 e9 l.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 11:41:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This target seems attainable only by either

Say "attainable only by some combination of the following means"

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 11:45:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, Colman, have edited along these lines.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:11:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks.

I then added:

However, support for local initiatives in favour of farmers using their own rapeseed/sunflower seed to power their tractors and machinery would start to reduce fossil fuel inputs in farming, and should be encouraged; and recycling of used oils and cooking fats should also be actively encouraged.

Question 5.1
Should the EU continue acting in favour of biofuels after 2010?

Certainly, as long as second-generation biofuels fulfil their promise.

Should EU action include the following measures (which could be pursued without
defining a quantified target):

c) continued scope for Member States to support biofuels through tax
reductions/exemptions?

Biofuels should be tax-exempt. Fossil fuels should be subjected to increased tax. Exemptions for aircraft fuel should end. Exemptions for agricultural use of fossil diesel too, it being understood that incentives to go over to biodiesel would be offered (above and beyond tax exemption).

Question 6.1
Do you have any comments on the following issues, listed in the biofuels directive for
inclusion in the Commission's progress report:

d) the sustainability of crops used for the production of biofuels, particularly land
use, degree of intensity of cultivation, crop rotation and use of pesticides?

Organic farming should be much more actively encouraged by the EU.
The use of feedstocks such as maize and sugar beet, currently cultivated by unsustainable methods in respect of soil fertility and erosion, water wastage, soil and water pollution, threats to biodiversity through excessive use of pesticides, should be discouraged.
The use of feedstock crops as a "back door" for the introduction of GM varieties should be resisted.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 11:40:13 AM EST
Can you add the bit about the need for EU technical regulations on transportation (and machinery) fuel to not favour fossil fuels unfairly over biofuels?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 11:44:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you remind me how it works again? (what it was exactly)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 11:50:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
here:
Even if not actively promoting biofuels, the EU should ensure that the technical regulatory framework for transportation fuels does not unfairly favour fossil fuels over biofuels.
This is not to prejudge the result of the consultation, but to indicate that added flexibility should be in place.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 11:54:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is in reference to all the "whereases" in the 2003 directive about engine performance, emission standards, etc.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 11:55:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What question does it answer?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:09:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was the end of my reply to 1.1 ("here" is hyperlinked).

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:12:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you think it fits there now?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:19:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To:

The EU should resist pressure from interested agri-business groups to divert a large funding stream into first-generation biofuels

I added:

, just as it should resist petroleum industry pressure to go on with fossil fuel use as if there were no problems.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 11:47:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and recycling of used oils and cooking fats should also be actively encouraged.

I would go as far as to say "recycling ... should be actively encouraged, and undertaking it on a large scale should be seriously considered".

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 11:49:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Question 5.1
Should the EU continue acting in favour of biofuels after 2010?

Certainly, as long as second-generation biofuels fulfil their promise.

If that means the promise should be fulfilled before 2010, I disagree.

We should tell the EU to fund serious large-scale scientific proof-of-concept experiments with promising sustainable second-generation biofuels in the period 2010-2020.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:01:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is what I meant. Have inserted your draft.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:15:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Alongside 2010-2020 you should mention the Seventh Framework Programme (2007-2013) and the eigth framework programme (presumably 2014-2020).

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:19:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that the eigth fremework programme does not as yet exist even as a project.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:20:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mention how? Can you draft this?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:21:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Append: "the Transport and energy directorate should encourage the funding of second-generation biofuel research under the Energy and Agriculture objectives of the EU's scientific research Seventh Framework Programme for 2007-13."

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:28:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The answer now reads:

If oil supply does plateau at 2006 levels while global demand keeps pushing oil prices up, it will become economical to use biofuels and then EU economic support will be unnecessary. However, the Transport and Energy Directorate should encourage the funding of second-generation biofuel research under the Energy and Agriculture objectives of the EU's scientific research Seventh Framework Programme for 2007-13.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:31:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If oil supply does plateau at 2006 levels while

say "...plateau, at 2006 levels or a few years hence, while..."

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:33:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I'll say " if oil prices continue to rise"
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:36:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:37:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point is not that it plateaus at current levels, but that it does plateau between now and 2020. If it happens early, we're screwed. If it happens late, vigorous research into 2nd gen biofuels and [move to here] flexible technical regulations for fuel already in place which don't unfairly favour fossil fuels over biofuels, may save the day.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:36:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Say "of 2007-13, and make it a research priority for the rest of the decade of 2010-20".

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:40:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have put up a new diary with the revised draft. This thread is getting long.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 at 12:52:35 PM EST


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