Renewable Gas #1 : What to do about Cars ?

Image Credit : PGO Automobiles

The European Commission, ooh, way back, decided that Biofuels were just what was needed to start the de-carbonisation of transportation. The original plan looked rather yellow and green – farm after farm of oilseed rape – what the Americans term “canola”. Suddenly schoolchildrens’ crayon renditions of the landscape were not as primary in colour as the actual fields.

The first target was for 5.75% of all transport fuel to be biologically sourced – from plants. What the European legislation didn’t figure was that some very dodgy dealers would take the long haul to Indonesia and Malaysia and start selling up the idea of marketing palm oil to Europe to make BioDiesel to meet the Biofuels Directive obligation. So goodbye rainforest and goodbye orangutans out in Asia. And goodbye good carbon intentions – replacing the rainforest with oil palms created net carbon emissions – so Biofuels failed to take the carbon out of motoring.

Some very bad ideas have followed on after. Several companies are still struggling with the idea that algae could turn out, could, I emphasise, be the thing that starts a genuine BioOil market. We’ll see – but most of the designs need an input of carbon dioxide – which would probably come from a fossil fuel-burning power station – so not very renewable, then.

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Australia’s Non-Green Stimulus

Back in the heady, long-gone days of 2009, The Oil Drum web log hosted a discussion about Australia being highly vulnerable to oil shortages :-

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5477

“Aleklett: Australia highly vulnerable to oil shortages : June 11, 2009 : ASPO International president, Professor Kjell Aleklett of the Global Energy Systems group at Uppsala University has been in Australia over the past week, presenting lectures in Adelaide and Sydney on peak oil…warned that Australia will be one of the first countries hit hard by oil shortages as oil production peaks within the next three years. Kjell Aleklett, a physicist from Uppsala University in Sweden, says Australia’s relatively underdeveloped public transport system leaves the country more vulnerable to a downturn in energy production. “Australia is very sensitive to such developments,” Professor Aleklett told the Herald. “Much of your industry and transit is dependent on oil, and supplies will decline.” Professor Aleklett addressed the NSW [New South Wales] electric car task force and the Federal Government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics yesterday…”

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Burning Things Is Wasteful

Centre for Alternative Technology

Burning things wastes a lot of energy – even burning waste.

1. Plain Old Inefficiency

The systems and infrastructure for the generation and distribution of electricity in the United Kingdom is extremely poor, nigh on immorally wasteful. See the diagram above from the Zero Carbon Britain 2030 report :-

http://www.zcb2030.org/

There are so many things that could be done to improve on that enormous loss of energy, and save on Carbon Dioxide Emissions at the same time.

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Fossil Fuels versus Corn Ethanol

So, digging up dirty old decaying fish causes massive coastland and marine pollution. Would bioethanol from corn be better ?

http://blogs.ft.com/energy-source/2010/06/14/is-bps-oil-spill-an-opportunity-for-the-ethanol-lobby/

Not really. First there’s the amount of land required to grow all that corn to burn in all those tanks (see diagram at top of page).

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Cleaning Up Black Carbon

Fighting haze and smog from transport and industry may give us some breathing space (literally and metaphorically), by holding back Global Warming for a while, allowing us the time to get some effective legislation on turning back rising Carbon Dioxide emissions.

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/dbailey/carbon_crossroads_california_c.html

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1938379,00.html

http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/whatonearth/posts/post_1270497028672.html

http://www.physorg.com/news170006509.html

http://geoportal.icimod.org/Dashboard.aspx?did=14

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/opinion/a-bolder-black-carbon-strategy-may-help-cut-climate-changes-gordian-knot/367450