IEA roadmap sees 27% biofuel use by 2050

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Let’s start with this. Why does anyone create a roadmap? Because they want to get somewhere, right? The phrase implicitly “recommends”. In this case, the recommendation is that biofuel development deserves to be encouraged, supported by public authorities. Hmm.

1. What? Biofuels are back? Again? Help me! Is this just plain silly? Or am I missing something important here?

2. To my mind, this is absolutely insane and/or flagrantly irresponsible meta-proposal. It’s a pure plant, a crafty public relations project launched by people who want to put their hand into my pocket, and others who pliantly announce that’s OK.

3. Funding biofuels with taxpayer dollars? No more, no less that a recurrent boondoggle, popping up the next time with a different set of clothes but always the same ugly idea, i.e., taking scarce public money to serve private interests.

4. I see no reason for being “reasonable” in the face of these bad recurrent ideas, which have at the base the purloining of hard earned taxpayer money to create future profit opportunities for a sector (the enterprise sector that is) whose job and raison d’être it is to be smart, capable and figuring out how to make money now and in the future. They are big guys and we the taxpayers and our public servants should not be holding their hand.

5. Moreover, I have hard time understanding while a bunch of earnest civil servants sitting around some kind of comfortable table in an international capital can pretend that they have the competence to take such positions. That’s just silly.

6. Not one penny of taxpayer money should be spent in pushing, pulling, whatever, alternative fuels. That is the domain and the expertise of the private sector.

7. The use of such words as “vision” and “incentivize” (I didn’t even know that was a word in proper English) and prhases making statements such as “. . . without adversely affecting food security or the environment” . . Where do they get that from?

8. The job of responsible governance is get the laws, prices and enforcement right for a society that is sustainable and just. In this case it means of course that we collectively are not doing this critical part of our job – which requires full and fair energy pricing.

9. Get this right and you give clear price signals to the enterprise sector which can then go away and figure out what they are supposed to do – i.e., to find the products and services that will make them and their stockholders rich in the future. That’s what they are supposed to do. We don’t want them to “think green”, unless it is in their interest to do so. We want them to invent the iPad on their own dollar. Without the help of international committees.

When this planet goes down the drain, there will be a lot of really nice reasonable people watching and wringing their hands.

Let’s not be “reasonable people”. Let’s win this war.

Eric Britton

Sent: Thursday, 21 April, 2011 09:48
Subject: (From: Cornie Huizenga) IEA roadmap sees 27% biofuel use by 2050

IEA roadmap sees 27% biofuel use by 2050

Global biofuel production could be increased 14-fold by 2050 without adversely affecting food security or the environment, according to a technology roadmap published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Wednesday.

Biofuels – liquid and gaseous fuels derived from organic matter – can play an important role in reducing CO2 emissions in the transport sector, and ehancing energy security.

By 2050, biofuels could provide 27% of total transport fuel and contribute in particular to the replacement of diesel, kerosene and jet fuel. The projected use of biofuels could avoid around 2.1 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 emissions per year when produced sustainably.

To meet this vision, most conventional biofuel technologies need to improve conversion efficiency, cost and overall sustainability. In addition, advanced biofuels need to be commercially deployed, which requires substantial further investment in research, development and demonstration (RD&D), and specific support for commercial-scale advanced biofuel plants.

Support policies should incentivise the most efficient biofuels in terms of life-cycle greenhouse-gas performance, and be backed by a strong policy framework which ensures that food security and biodiversity are not compromised, and that social impacts are positive. This includes sustainable land-use management and certification schemes, as well as support measures that promote “low-risk” feedstocks and efficient processing technologies.

Meeting the biofuel demand in this roadmap would require around 65 exajoules (EJ)1 of biofuel feedstock, occupying around 100 million hectares (Mha) in 2050. This poses a considerable challenge given competition for land and feedstocks from rapidly growing demand for food and fibre, and for additional 80 EJ1 of biomass for generating heat and power.2 However, with a sound policy framework in place, it should be possible to provide the required 145 EJ of total biomass for biofuels, heat and electricity from residues and wastes, along with sustainably grown energy crops.

Trade in biomass and biofuels will become increasingly important to supply biomass to areas with high production and/or consumption. 1) This is primary energy content of the biomass feedstock before conversion to final energy. 2) A roadmap looking specifically at the use of bioenergy for heat and power will be produced early in 2012.levels, and can help trigger investments and mobilise biomass potentials in certain regions.

Scale and efficiency improvements will reduce biofuel production costs over time. In a low-cost scenario, most biofuels could be competitive with fossil fuels by 2030. In a scenario in which production costs are strongly coupled to oil prices, they would remain slightly more expensive than fossil fuels.

While total biofuel production costs from 2010 to 2050 in this roadmap range between USD 11 trillion to USD 13 trillion, the marginal savings or additional costs compared to use of gasoline/diesel are in the range of only +/-1% of total costs for all transport fuels.

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