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.