Transition Brockville archive

Tag : Biofuels (7)

It’s final — Corn ethanol is of no use

Forbes / James Conca / 20 April 2014

The summary in the new report also states, “Increasing bioenergy crop cultivation poses risks to ecosystems and biodiversity” (WGIII).

The report lists many potential negative risks of development, such as direct conflicts between land for fuels and land for food, other land-use changes, water scarcity, loss of biodiversity and nitrogen pollution through the excessive use of fertilizers (Scientific American).

The International Institute for Sustainable Development was not so diplomatic, and estimates that the CO2 and climate benefits from replacing petroleum fuels with biofuels like ethanol are basically zero (IISD). They claim that it would be almost 100 times more effective, and much less costly, to significantly reduce vehicle emissions through more stringent standards, and to increase CAFE standards on all cars and light trucks to over 40 miles per gallon as was done in Japan just a few years ago.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Biofuels not all they’re cracked up to be, study finds

Common Dreams / Deirdre Fulton / 29 January 2015

ethanol“The quest for bioenergy at a meaningful scale is both unrealistic and unsustainable,” says a new report from the World Resources Institute that calls into question Western governments’ support for energy policies that encourage large-scale conversion of plants into fuel.

The study, “Avoiding Bioenergy Competition for Food Crops and Land” (pdf), published Thursday, is a wide-ranging look at the costs and benefits associated with producing plant-based energy, or biofuels. It finds that dedicating crops, such as corn or sugarcane, or land to generating bioenergy—as the U.S. and some European countries are already doing and aiming to do even more—is an inefficient use of the world’s natural resources.

Further, the report states: “[B]ioenergy that entails the dedicated use of land to grow the energy feedstock will undercut efforts to combat climate change and to achieve a sustainable food future.”

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Atikokan generating station operating on biomass

Ontario Power Generation / Press Release / 10 September 2014

Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Atikokan Generating Station (GS) is now operating on biomass. Biomass is an emerging fuel source that is recognized as beneficial to climate change mitigation. The station is the largest power plant in North America fuelled by 100 per cent biomass.

“The conversion of Atikokan will ensure a clean, reliable, sustainable and local supply of electricity for the region,” said Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy. “I am very happy to see this facility playing an active role in helping us deliver on the commitments in our Long-Term Energy Plan.”

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Forman Farms fuels an innovative path

Eastern Ontario AgriNews / Jeff Moore / August 2014

CharlieFormanThe Formans now own and rent over 2,400 acres, run a property improvement and agricultural services business, as well as a pellet mill and mulch mixing and grinding enterprise. They also own a trucking and delivery service, and Christine runs a successful greenhouse operation at the farm, too.

The couple’s newest innovation is the pellet mill, which makes anything from wood and switchgrass pellets for burning in a pellet stove or commercial ovens, to deer feed. The process also creates mulch for gardens. Originally, they bought the machinery to make pellets for heating their greenhouses but have since started selling the product to companies and the general public.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Sketchy Claims for Wood Energy Exports

The Tyee / Robert McClure / 24 April 2014

pellets2Eight words in a 927-page document. That’s all it took to launch a European policy with big implications for B.C. That policy counts burning wood to produce energy as equivalent, climate-wise, to solar and wind power. This despite the fact that burning wood releases the very same greenhouse gasses as any fossil fuel; the same gasses that are turning oceans acidic and melting the polar ice caps. Here are the eight words: “The emission factor for biomass shall be zero.”

Not, you will note, “are zero.” No: “shall be zero.” Behind that starkly declarative pronouncement lay months of tense international negotiations over the climate-change implications of burning biomass, or any kind of plant matter: wood, agricultural wastes, or crops grown for burning. In the end, the winning argument was that biomass regrows, recapturing the carbon released when it was burned, and therefore must be OK for the climate.

As the second report in this series found, however, that argument was based on politics, not science. In fact, there are multiple factors at work in determining whether wood and other biomass lives up to its green billing. Nonetheless, the brief sentence has ignited a whole new industry in B.C. in the last decade, shipping boatloads of pelletized wood waste to Europe. There, Canada’s woody biomass is a sought-after commodity to be burned in power plants that put juice on the continental grid.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Energy Reality – A Primer

US002_1366wOverview of basic energy concepts: net energy, energy density, embodied energy, energy slaves, and peak oil. A tour of the energy terrain reviewing the major energy resources and their transportation methods, including conventional and unconventional oil, offshore oil, natural gas, shale gas, coal and nuclear, as well as renewables such as hydropower, geothermal, biofuels, biomass, wind and solar energy. An examination of globalized transport for moving fuel (pipelines and powerlines), and of emerging energy technologies (including hydrogen) and micropower (small-scale distributed energy generation).

[ WEBSITE ]

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Transition initiatives share many of the same goals as other groups, and works collaboratively with a variety of organizations in their local areas. Transition differs in that it focuses specifically on preparing communities for the changes associated with unprecedented resource depletion and transitioning away from fossil-fuel dependency.

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