Biofuels ‘essential’ in reducing transport GHG emissions

At the Lima climate summit, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) restated the importance of biofuels, such as ethanol, in reducing GHG emissions in the transport sector.

Biofuels are presently one of the most commercially viable fuel alternatives to crude oil in the medium term, proven to reduce GHGs from 40% to 90% compared with fossil fuels.

GRFA spokesperson Bliss Baker said: “Nearly a third of global GHGs come from the transportation sector, those GHGs need to be a priority if we are going to make a significant contribution to combating climate change. Biofuels must be an integral part of that fight.”

In September, the Renewable Energy Association urged the UK Government to increase the cap on biofuels under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, to allow the introduction of higher biofuel blends and set a trajectory to achieving the 10% renewable transport target by 2020.

GRFA data estimates that 2014 global ethanol production would reach approximately 90 billion litres, reducing GHG emissions by more than 106 million tonnes – equivalent to removing 21 million cars from the road every year.

However, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has stated that ‘by 2050, biofuels could provide 27% of total transport fuel’ and ‘the projected use of biofuels could avoid around 2.1 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions per year’ and that biofuels ‘will eventually provide one fifth of emission reductions in the transport sector.’

Baker concluded: “It’s clear that today, biofuels like ethanol, are helping combat climate change but to reach their full potential requires enhanced biofuels friendly policies. The outcomes of COP 2014 must be the adoption of policies that increase biofuels use and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.”

EEA recently released a report stating that GHG emissions from the transport sector must continue to fall considerably to meet targets over coming decades.

UK advanced biofuel plants

In related biofuels news, the UK has this week launched a £25m advanced biofuels demonstration competition to support the development of a domestic advanced biofuels industry.

Originally announced by the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Norman Baker MP last August, the £25m of capital funding – supported by significant private sector investment – is designed to achieve the construction of up to three demonstration-scale advanced biofuel plants in the UK.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that the new funding will be made available over three years for technologies that can produce biofuels with emissions at least 60% lower than fossil fuels.

According to a recent feasibility study from DfT, gains from the domestic supply of converting low-value waste to high-value transport fuel could be worth up to £130m gross value added to the UK by 2030, and potentially up to £500m per year including exports.

Expressions of Interest are now being sought from potential bidders until 13 February, 2015.

Lois Vallely

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