onsdag 20. juli 2011

The importance of biofuels in our current society

The excessive net carbon dioxide emissions and the serious geo-political implications associated to fossil fuels, makes the replacement of these conventional fuels by alternative energy sources an urgent need. Biomass, as a clean renewable energy source, will certainly play an important role. Biomass presents advantages over other sustainable sources such as solar, hydro, wind and geothermal. On the one hand, biomass and the processed products can be easily stored. On the other hand, biomass is the only renewable source of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and therefore it is suitable, besides heat and power, for the production of chemicals and transportation fuels. When looking at the transportation sector, liquid fuels produced from biomass, namely biofuels, will particularly be essential in aviation, ships and truck traffic, where the energy needs to be stored very efficiently. Biofuels are often divided into so-called first, second and third generation biofuels. The former ones originate from crops whereas second generation and third generation biofuels are produced from lignocellulosic materials and algal/aquatic biomass, respectively.

The use of first generation technology has been the subject of considerable media attention and a significant part of our society is concerned about the environmental and social impacts of these types of biofuels, originating from food crops.
In Europe, the main focus is on the production of second and third generation biofuels from sustainable feedstocks such as agricultural residues, algae, forest residues, etc. Norway does not produce first generation biofuels. Among the different second and third generation biofuels, Norway produces bioethanol and biogas from lignocellulosics. Biodiesel, instead is not produced. Although these materials may be more sustainable and do not compete directly with food, as it occurs with the first generation biofuels, they do compete for land use. In this context, there are several ongoing projects on algae for biofuel production in Norway, to overcome the concerns related to the second generation biofuels. Although biofuels production is being developed in Norway to a significant extent, there are still no environmental or sustainability demands on the use of biofuels, in contrast to the countries of the European Union. In order to implement biofuels in Norway, regulations and incentives will be essential.

2 kommentarer:

  1. This may be one of the reasons biodiesel is not produced in Norway; The government put tax on it. It seems they're not sure it was such a good idea anymore, though. http://www.aftenposten.no/bil/article3841689.ece

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