Just in time for April Fool’s Day comes news of the latest scam in the biofuels industry. As we report today, cargo loads of biofuel are due to shipped from Europe to the US where they are topped up, permitting traders to declare a endowment from Washington, and then shipped back. Despite the dateline, this is no prank – it accounts for developing to 10% of all biofuel exports from America to europe – even though it makes a mockery of the slant of a green fuel.
The attraction of biofuels is obvious: they offer a simple solution to one of the thorniest problems of our times. If the fossil fuels we use, especially for transport, emit too an awful lot spit then, runs the thinking, swap to low-carbon fuels made from potato or rapeseed. Clean and cheap, biofuels are a godsend for governments facing stiff targets on reducing carbon use. And so they subscribe quotas or introduce subsidies to encourage take-up of this miracle fuel. From today, 2.5% of all petrol and technologist sold in the UK must equal made from biofuels. And the EU plans to raise that to 5.75% by 2010.
The problem with biofuels is equally obvious: they are a simplistic sense to a problem too ponderous to exhibit tackled with mere shortcuts. They take up land and plants that might otherwise attempt against feeding people, which is a big consider cuisine prices have shot up. They typically obligate nitrogen fertilizers, which causes the soil to hiccup nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas. Biofuels also require ploughing, harvesting, and processing – all of which use energy, frequently supplied by burning mature fuels. For a supposedly clean energy source, biofuels are often especially mucky; some may now not aid address global warming but make sincere worse.
Not all biofuels are alike, and a new, improved generation endowment be produced within a few years. But rather than venture easy on using biofuels in the meantime, politicians are treating them considering a convenience fuel.
David Toke of Birmingham university points to analysis published via the juice department for alacrity (the former DTI) which suggests that the united kingdom should discover in biofuels on the continent, quite than develop its own domestic assets of renewable energy. After all, the united kingdom is so inmost behind its EU targets on green energy, it capability as well buy in the shortfall. Instead of Britain developing wave power, the government consultants propose, it can pay eastern Europe to crop up biofuels – again so groundball by oneself their allow forests.
This is breathtaking cynicism. inculcate this whitehall proposal in combination with the private-sector trading scam and a picture emerges of biofuels being used due to a cop-out. Despite all the speak of using sustainable fuels, both government and industry do as unsustainably as ever.