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    PetroChina Co Ltd, the country's largest oil and gas producer, plans to invest 800 million yuan to build an ethanol plant in Nanchong, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, its parent China National Petroleum Corp said. The ethanol plant has a designed annual capacity of 100,000 tons. ABCMoneyNews - December 21, 2007.

    Mexico passed legislation to promote biofuels last week, offering unspecified support to farmers that grow crops for the production of any renewable fuel. Agriculture Minister Alberto Cardenas said Mexico could expand biodiesel faster than ethanol. More soon. Reuters - December 20, 2007.

    Oxford Catalysts has placed an order worth approximately €700,000 (US$1 million) with the German company Amtec for the purchase of two Spider16 high throughput screening reactors. The first will be used to speed up the development of catalysts for hydrodesulphurisation (HDS). The second will be used to further the development of catalysts for use in gas to liquid (GTL) and Fischer-Tropsch processes which can be applied to next generation biofuels. AlphaGalileo - December 18, 2007.

    According to the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE), Brazil's production of sugarcane will increase from 514,1 million tonnes this season, to a record 561,8 million tonnes in the 2008/09 cyclus - an increase of 9.3%. New numbers are also out for the 2007 harvest in Brazil's main sugarcane growing region, the Central-South: a record 425 million tonnes compared to 372,7 million tonnes in 2006, or a 14% increase. The estimate was provided by Unica – the União da Indústria de Cana-de-Açúcar. Jornal Cana - December 16, 2007.

    The University of East Anglia and the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre have today released preliminary global temperature figures for 2007, which show the top 11 warmest years all occurring in the last 13 years. The provisional global figure for 2007 using data from January to November, currently places the year as the seventh warmest on records dating back to 1850. The announcement comes as the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Michel Jarraud, speaks at the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Bali. Eurekalert - December 13, 2007.

    The Royal Society of Chemistry has announced it will launch a new journal in summer 2008, Energy & Environmental Science, which will distinctly address both energy and environmental issues. In recognition of the importance of research in this subject, and the need for knowledge transfer between scientists throughout the world, from launch the RSC will make issues of Energy & Environmental Science available free of charge to readers via its website, for the first 18 months of publication. This journal will highlight the important role that the chemical sciences have in solving the energy problems we are facing today. It will link all aspects of energy and the environment by publishing research relating to energy conversion and storage, alternative fuel technologies, and environmental science. AlphaGalileo - December 10, 2007.

    Dutch researcher Bas Bougie has developed a laser system to investigate soot development in diesel engines. Small soot particles are not retained by a soot filter but are, however, more harmful than larger soot particles. Therefore, soot development needs to be tackled at the source. Laser Induced Incandescence is a technique that reveals exactly where soot is generated and can be used by project partners to develop cleaner diesel engines. Terry Meyer, an Iowa State University assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is using similar laser technology to develop advanced sensors capable of screening the combustion behavior and soot characteristics specifically of biofuels. Eurekalert - December 7, 2007.

    Lithuania's first dedicated biofuel terminal has started operating in Klaipeda port. At the end of November 2007, the stevedoring company Vakaru krova (VK) started activities to manage transshipments. The infrastructure of the biodiesel complex allows for storage of up to 4000 cubic meters of products. During the first year, the terminal plans to transship about 70.000 tonnes of methyl ether, after that the capacities of the terminal would be increased. Investments to the project totaled €2.3 million. Agrimarket - December 5, 2007.

    New Holland supports the use of B100 biodiesel in all equipment with New Holland-manufactured diesel engines, including electronic injection engines with common rail technology. Overall, nearly 80 percent of the tractor and equipment manufacturer's New Holland-branded products with diesel engines are now available to operate on B100 biodiesel. Tractor and equipment maker John Deere meanwhile clarified its position for customers that want to use biodiesel blends up to B20. Grainnet - December 5, 2007.

    According to Wetlands International, an NGO, the Kyoto Protocol as it currently stands does not take into account possible emissions from palm oil grown on a particular type of land found in Indonesia and Malaysia, namely peatlands. Mongabay - December 5, 2007.

    Malaysia's oil & gas giant Petronas considers entering the biofuels sector. Zamri Jusoh, senior manager of Petronas' petroleum development management unit told reporters "of course our focus is on oil and gas, but I think as we move into the future we cannot ignore the importance of biofuels." AFP - December 5, 2007.

    In just four months, the use of biodiesel in the transport sector has substantially improved air quality in Metro Manila, data from the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showed. A blend of one percent coco-biodiesel is mandated by the Biofuels Act of 2007 which took effect last May. By 2009, it would be increased to two percent. Philippine Star - December 4, 2007.

    Kazakhstan will next year adopt laws to regulate its fledgling biofuel industry and plans to construct at least two more plants in the next 18 months to produce environmentally friendly fuel from crops, industry officials said. According to Akylbek Kurishbayev, vice-minister for agriculture, he Central Asian country has the potential to produce 300,000 tons a year of biodiesel and export half. Kazakhstan could also produce up to 1 billion liters of bioethanol, he said. "The potential is huge. If we use this potential wisely, we can become one of the world's top five producers of biofuels," Beisen Donenov, executive director of the Kazakhstan Biofuels Association, said on the sidelines of a grains forum. Reuters - November 30, 2007.

    SRI Consulting released a report on chemicals from biomass. The analysis highlights six major contributing sources of green and renewable chemicals: increasing production of biofuels will yield increasing amounts of biofuels by-products; partial decomposition of certain biomass fractions can yield organic chemicals or feedstocks for the manufacture of various chemicals; forestry has been and will continue to be a source of pine chemicals; evolving fermentation technology and new substrates will also produce an increasing number of chemicals. Chemical Online - November 27, 2007.

    German industrial conglomerate MAN AG plans to expand into renewable energies such as biofuels and solar power. Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said services unit Ferrostaal would lead the expansion. Reuters - November 24, 2007.

    Analysts think Vancouver-based Ballard Power Systems, which pumped hundreds of millions and decades of research into developing hydrogen fuel cells for cars, is going to sell its automotive division. Experts describe the development as "the death of the hydrogen highway". The problems with H2 fuel cell cars are manifold: hydrogen is a mere energy carrier and its production requires a primary energy input; production is expensive, as would be storage and distribution; finally, scaling fuel cells and storage tanks down to fit in cars remains a huge challenge. Meanwhile, critics have said that the primary energy for hydrogen can better be used for electricity and electric vehicles. On a well-to-wheel basis, the cleanest and most efficient way to produce hydrogen is via biomass, so the news is a set-back for the biohydrogen community. But then again, biomass can be used more efficiently as electricity for battery cars. Canada.com - November 21, 2007.

    South Korea plans to invest 20 billion won (€14.8/$21.8 million) by 2010 on securing technologies to develop synthetic fuels from biomass, coal and natural gas, as well as biobutanol. 29 private companies, research institutes and universities will join this first stage of the "next-generation clean energy development project" led by South Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. Korea Times - November 19, 2007.

    OPEC leaders began a summit today with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez issuing a chilling warning that crude prices could double to US$200 from their already-record level if the United States attacked Iran or Venezuela. He urged assembled leaders from the OPEC, meeting for only the third time in the cartel's 47-year history, to club together for geopolitical reasons. But the cartel is split between an 'anti-US' block including Venezuela, Iran, and soon to return ex-member Ecuador, and a 'neutral' group comprising most Gulf States. France24 - November 17, 2007.

    The article "Biofuels: What a Biopact between North and South could achieve" published in the scientific journal Energy Policy (Volume 35, Issue 7, 1 July 2007, Pages 3550-3570) ranks number 1 in the 'Top 25 hottest articles'. The article was written by professor John A. Mathews, Macquarie University (Sydney, Autralia), and presents a case for a win-win bioenergy relationship between the industrialised and the developing world. Mathews holds the Chair of Strategic Management at the university, and is a leading expert in the analysis of the evolution and emergence of disruptive technologies and their global strategic management. ScienceDirect - November 16, 2007.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Yanmar launches biogas micro-cogeneration business

Japanese engine and agricultural machinery manufacturer Yanmar announces it is commercializing highly efficient biogas powered micro-cogeneration plants. The compact 25kWh combined heat and power (CHP) plants were developed over several years from systems that originally worked on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Through its fully owned subsidiary Yanmar Energy System, the company hopes to sell 1000 of the renewable energy units per year by 2012.

The compact biogas power plants target livestock production facilities, small household and municipal waste treatment facilities and the food processing industry in which large streams of waste biomass are available, suitable for the production of biogas. Biogas obtained via the anaerobic digestion of organic materials consists mainly of methane and CO2. The cogeneration plants work on raw, unprocessed biogas (60-70% CH4) to yield carbon neutral energy but are more efficient when upgraded biogas ('biomethane') is utilized.

After a testing and verification process, the company's internal project team found the system to be highly reliable and efficient, with the number of sales of test-units increasing fast enough during 2006-2007, leading to the decision to launch a full commercialisation effort. The cogeneration plants will likely be priced at 12 million yen (€73,000/US$ 105,800).

The units have the following characteristics [*Japanese] (schematic, click to enlarge):
  • a rated power output of 25kWh (three phase, 200V)
  • an overall efficiency of over 84% in CHP-mode; an electric efficiency of 33% when biogas with an 80-90% methane content is used and 32% when raw biogas (60-70% methane) is used; a thermal efficiency of respectively 52% and 53%
  • a low noise profile
  • continuous operational capacity of 6000 hours per year
On an annual basis, the micro-cogeneration plant can save up to 70 tonnes of CO2 compared to a similar output obtained from fossil fuel (LPG) powered units:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The calculation of the CO2 savings is based on computation methods provided by the Ministry for Environmental, Economic and Industrial Affairs and based on a typical biogas production operation.

According to Yanmar Energy System, the 1000 biogas units it hopes to sell will avoid as much CO2 as is sequestered in 5 million cedar trees, thus contributing to mitigating climate change.

Combined, the plants will generate around 50,000MWh of electricity, enough to power 40,000 homes, and 230000 MW of heat, enough to take 53,000,000 hot baths. Kerosene boilers would require around 25 million liters of the fossil fuel to heat an equivalent amount of water.

According to the company, Japan's average carbon dioxide price between April 2006 and August 2007 was 1212 Yen per ton (max. 2500 Yen, min. 900 Yen). Taking an average value, the 1000 units Yanmar hopes to sell would thus yield around 85 million Yen worth of carbon credits.

An interesting market that will be explored besides the farm and food processing sector, is that of coupling geothermal energy to methane recovery. The micro-generation units can thus be utilized as renewable home energy systems scavenging off the waste product of another form of renewable energy.

Yanmar: Biogas micro-cogeneration sales to start - December 19, 2007.

Yanmar Energy System: dedicated biogas micro-cogeneration website.

JCN Network: Yanmar Unit to Fully Launch Biogas Cogeneration System - December 19, 2007.

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Elevated CO2 changes soil microbe mix below plants; frees nutrients, allows plants to sequester more CO2

A detailed analysis of soil samples taken from a forest ecosystem with artificially elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) reveals distinct changes in the mix of microorganisms living in the soil below trembling aspen. These changes could increase the availability of essential soil nutrients, thereby supporting increased plant growth and the plants' ability to "lock up," or sequester, excess carbon from the atmosphere. The research will be published online this week in the journal Environmental Microbiology. It confirms previously reported increases in biomass turnover rates and sustained availability and translocation of the essential nutrients required for increased plant growth under elevated CO2 - an observation with high relevance to the bioenergy and forestry sector.

The discovered changes in soil biota are evidence for altered interactions between trembling aspen trees and the microorganisms in the surrounding soil, says Daniel van der Lelie, a biologist at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, who led the research. The findings support the idea that greater plant detritus production under elevated CO2 has altered microbial community composition in the soil. Understanding the effect these microbial changes have on ecosystem function, especially via effects on the cycling of essential elements, will be important for evaluating the potential of forests and energy crops to act as carbon sinks in mitigating the effects of rising CO2.

Atmospheric CO2, the most abundant greenhouse gas, has been increasing since the start of the industrial age, and is one of the main contributing factors associated with climate change. Since plants take in CO2 and convert it to biomass during photosynthesis, much research has focused on the potential of forests to sequester excess carbon and offset the rise in CO2.

Various studies have demonstrated increased plant growth under elevated CO2, but there is no consensus on many of the secondary effects associated with these plant responses. The goal of this study was to investigate the composition and role of microbial communities, which help to regulate the cycling of carbon and nitrogen in terrestrial ecosystems.

The study was conducted on soil samples collected at an experimental trembling aspen forest in Rhinelander, Wisconsin - home to the Aspen FACE II experiment (picture, click to enlarge). That forest is outfitted with a series rings made of large pipes that can pump a controlled amount of carbon dioxide (or other gases) into the air to artificially mimic expected environmental changes in an otherwise open-air environment. This and other similar Free-Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment (FACE) facilities around the world were developed by the Department of Energy to help estimate how plants and ecosystems will respond to increasing CO2. Before FACE, much of what scientists knew about plant and ecosystem responses to rising CO2 came from studies conducted in enclosures, where the response of plants is modified by their growth conditions:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

In this study, the scientists compared the microbial content of soil taken from three FACE rings receiving ambient levels of CO2 (about 383 parts per million, as of January 2007) with that from soil taken from three FACE rings that have been receiving elevated CO2 (560 parts per million) - a level expected to be ambient on Earth in the year 2100 if the current rate of CO2 increase remains constant at 1.9 parts per million per year.

The scientists first isolated the genetic material from each soil sample. They then used molecular genetics techniques to isolate regions of genetic material known to be highly species-specific, sequenced these regions, and compared them with genetic sequence libraries of known bacteria, eukaryotic microbes (those with nuclei, such as fungi and protozoa), and archaea, a group of microbes that are genetically distinct from bacteria and often dwell in extreme environments.

Main findings

There were no differences in total abundance of bacteria or eukaryotic microbes between ambient and high CO2 soil samples. But elevated CO2 samples showed significant changes in the composition of these communities, including:
  • an increase in heterotrophic decomposers - microbes that rely on an external food source and break down organic matter to recycle carbon and nitrogen
  • an increase in ectomycorrhizal fungi - which gain nutrients by living in association with plant roots and help to provide the plants with essential minerals
  • a decrease in fungi that commonly cause disease in plants - perhaps because increased plant growth stimulated by CO2 makes the plants less hospitable/susceptible to the fungi.
  • a significant decrease in nitrate-reducers of the domain bacteria and archaea potentially implicated in ammonium oxidation.
The increased plant growth associated with elevated CO2 environments has often been observed to be temporary because of the progressive depletion of the element nitrogen from the soil. Such a limitation has not yet been observed at the Rhinelander FACE site.

"Overall, the changes we observed support previously reported increases in biomass turnover rates and sustained availability and translocation of the essential nutrients required for increased plant growth under elevated CO2," van der Lelie said.

This study was funded by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research within the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science and by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program at Brookhaven Lab.

Brookhaven National Laboratory: Elevated Carbon Dioxide Changes Soil Microbe Mix Below Plants - December 19, 2007.

Website of the Aspen FACE II experiment.

Overview of all FACE projects.

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Towards carbon-negative biofuels: US DOE awards $66.7 million for large-scale CO2 capture and storage from ethanol plant

We have been predicting the coupling of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to biofuel production for a while. A first such large-scale project is now being funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Following closely on the heels of three recent awards through the DOE's Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership Program, the department today awarded $66.7 million to the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC) for the Department’s fourth large-scale carbon sequestration project which involves the capture and geosequestration of 1 million tonnes of CO2 from Archer Daniels Midland's ethanol plant in Decatur, Illinois.

This project will demonstrate that it is possible to make 'carbon neutral' biofuels even greener than they are. During the fermentation of biomass, a stream of CO2 is released that is taken up by the new energy crops as they grow, closing the carbon cycle. But if this stream is captured before it enters the atmosphere and then sequestered in a geological formation to stay there for centuries or millenia, the greenhouse gas balance of the biofuel improves dramatically. The amount of CO2 that can be captured from ethanol production is around 5 to 10% of the original carbon input (roughly 3 tonnes of CO2 per 1000 liters of ethanol) (schematic, click to enlarge).

Capturing and sequestering CO2 from fermentation processes can be called a 'first generation' of CCS-to-biofuels coupling. When the ethanol from such a plant is burned in an ICE, it still releases CO2 into the atmosphere that is taken up again by the plants ('carbon neutral'), but a considerable fraction of the CO2 that occured during the production process has been taken out of this carbon cycle, making the fuel a lot greener. However, it is possible to make biofuels and bioenergy far more radical tools in the fight against climate change still, by completely decarbonizing them. This can be done by capturing and sequestering the CO2 from biohydrogen and during the combustion of biomass. The result is radically 'carbon negative' fuel and energy.

Such 'bio-energy with carbon storage' (BECS) systems yield 'negative emissions' energy. All other renewables, like wind power, biofuels-without-CCS, solar energy or even nuclear power are all 'carbon neutral' at best. That is, they do not add any or only small amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere. BECS however is 'carbon negative' and takes CO2 out of the atmosphere (schematic, click to enlarge). Scientists have found that if radical BECS systems were to replace coal fired power stations on a global scale, atmospheric CO2 levels can be brought back to pre-industrial levels by mid-century (2060), thus solving the climate crisis.

Capturing CO2 from ethanol plants is a relatively straightforward and cost-effective 'cold' process (CO2 can be drawn from the fermentation chamber easily). Next generation CCS-to-biofuels systems are more complex, because they involve the capture of CO2 before, during or after 'hot' processes such as gasification. This requires specially designed membranes or gas capture technologies still under development.

One great advantage of coupling CCS to bioenergy is that it overcomes the criticism often heard against carbon sequestration, namely that CO2 leakage from the geological formation would be catastrophic for the climate. This would be true if the stored CO2 were to come originally from fossil fuels because in that case, the leak would add CO2 to the atmosphere. But under BECS, the CO2 is biogenic and would not result in a net increase in CO2. Thus, this argument against CCS becomes senseless when the technology is coupled to biological CO2 sources.

In any case, the DOE's new project allows us to begin to take 'bio-energy with carbon storage' seriously. We have been hinting at the prospect for a long time. Now a first step towards the concept is being taken with considerable funding.

The Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership Program's project will be led by the Illinois State Geological Survey will conduct large volume tests in the Illinois Basin to demonstrate the ability of a geologic formation to safely, permanently, and economically store more than one million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Subject to annual appropriations from Congress, this project including the partnership’s cost share is estimated to cost $84.3 million. Advancing carbon sequestration is a key component of the Bush Administration’s comprehensive efforts to pursue clean coal technology to meet current and future energy needs and meet President Bush’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions intensity 18 percent by 2012.

This partnership will demonstrate CO2 storage in the Mount Simon Sandstone Formation, a prolific geologic formation throughout Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, and portions of Ohio. This formation offers great potential to store more than 100 years of carbon dioxide emissions from major point sources in the region. The partnership will inject one million tons of CO2 into one of the thickest portions of the Mount Simon Formation testing how the heterogeneity of the formation can increase the effectiveness of storage and demonstrate that the massive seals can contain the CO2 for millennia. The results of this project will provide the foundation for the future development of CO2 capture and storage opportunities in the region.

Researchers and industry partners will characterize the injection sites and complete modeling, monitoring, and infrastructure assessments needed before CO2 can be injected. MGSC plans to drill a CO2 injection well and then inject about 1,000 tons per day of carbon dioxide into the Mt. Simon sandstone, which is approximately 5,500 feet below the surface. The project will inject CO2 for three years before closing the injection site and monitoring and modeling the injected carbon dioxide to determine the effectiveness of the storage reservoir:

The Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium will work with the Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Company to demonstrate the entire CO2 injection process—pre-injection characterization, injection process monitoring, and post-injection monitoring—at large volumes to determine the ability of different geologic settings to permanently store CO2. ADM’s ethanol plant in Decatur, IL, will serve as the source of CO2 for the project:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

ADM will cost share the expense of the CO2, which will come from the company’s ethanol production operation. DOE will fund the dehydration, compression, short pipeline, and related facility costs to deliver the CO2 to the wellhead.
These projects demonstrate the potential of carbon sequestration technology, which will play a crucial role in achieving President Bush’s goal to harness advanced clean energy technologies to meet growing demand and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We continue to make robust investments aimed at moving carbon sequestration technology from the laboratory to actual large-scale field demonstrations and ultimately to the marketplace to with the help of our regional partners. - Bud Albright, Under Secretary of Energy
Today’s award to MGSC is the fourth of seven awards in the third phase of the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program. In October, Deputy Secretary of Energy Clay Sell announced the first three large volume carbon sequestration projects that total $318 million for Plains Carbon Dioxide Reduction Partnership, Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership, and Southwest Regional Partnership for Carbon Sequestration.

This ten year initiative, launched by DOE in 2003, forms the centerpiece of national efforts to develop the infrastructure and knowledge base needed to place carbon sequestration technologies on the path to commercialization. The seven regional partnerships include more than 350 state agencies, universities, and private companies within 41 states, two Indian nations, and four Canadian provinces. During the first phase of the program, seven partnerships characterized the potential for CO2 storage in deep oil-, gas-, coal-, and saline-bearing formations. When Phase I ended in 2005, the partnerships had identified more than 3,000 billion metric tons of potential storage capacity in promising sinks. This has the potential to represent more than 1,000 years of storage capacity from point sources in North America. In the program’s second phase, the partnerships implemented a portfolio of small-scale geologic and terrestrial sequestration projects. The purpose of these tests was to validate that different geologic formations have the injectivity, containment, and storage effectiveness needed for long-term sequestration. The third phase, large volume tests are designed to validate that the capture, transportation, injection, and long term storage of over one million tons of carbon dioxide can be done safely, permanently, and economically.

US DOE: Energy Department Awards $66.7 Million for Large-Scale Carbon Sequestration Project - December 19, 2007.

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US becomes biofuel nation as Congress approves Energy Bill

The US House of Representatives has approved what lawmakers have described as a 'historic' energy bill to improve fuel economy and reduce demand for oil by massively pushing biofuels. The legislation, passed by the Senate last week (previous post), is due to be signed into law by President George W. Bush. It will mandate the first increase in vehicle fuel economy since 1975 while boosting ethanol production six-fold. With the law, the United States is set to become the world's leading biofuel nation.

The bill deals with four primary categories of biofuels that define the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): conventional biofuel which is ethanol produced from corn starch; cellulosic biofuels derived from any type of biomass; biomass-based diesel including fatty acid methyl esters; and other 'advanced biofuels'.

Under the bill, the RFS increases to 36 billion gallons (136 billion liters) by 2022, roughly the equivalent of between 1.8 and 2 million barrels of oil per day. Of that, corn ethanol production is capped at 15 billion gallons per year starting in 2015 (56.8 billion liters), a three-fold increase of current production levels; the remainder is expected provided by 'advanced biofuels', the majority of which are cellulosic biofuels. In the final year of the standard (2022), cellulosic biofuels should contribute more (16 billion gallons) than does corn ethanol (15 billion gallons) (graph, click to enlarge).

The law assigns minimum lifecycle greenhouse gas improvements, measured against a baseline of the lifecycle emissions from gasoline or diesel (whichever is being replaced) on sale in 2005. The minimum GHG improvement is 20%; biomass-based diesel must deliver a 50% GHG improvement, and cellulosic biofuels must deliver a 60% improvement in lifecycle GHG emissions.

The bill defines 'Advanced Biofuels' as renewable fuel, other than ethanol derived from corn starch, including:
  • Ethanol produced from cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin;
  • Ethanol derived from sugar other than from corn starch;
  • Ethanol derived from waste materials, including crop residue;
  • Butanol or other alcohols produced via conversion of organic materials;
  • Biomass-based diesel;
  • Biogas (including landfill gas and sewage waste treatment gas) produced through the conversion of organic matter from renewable biomass; and
  • Other fuels derived from cellulosic biomass.
The RFS provides significant allowances for adjustments and revisions based on determination of the Administrator of the EPA. For example, the Administrator can reduce the percentage reductions in greenhouse gas emissions specified in the bill by up to 10 percentage points for each category if he or she determines that the reduction is not commercially feasible:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

As another example, if the production of cellulosic biofuel is projected to be less than that required by the RFS, the Administrator can reduce the applicable volume in the standard.

The bill requires the DOE, USDA, and EPA to engage the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study to assess the impact of the RFS on feed grains; livestock; food; forest products; and energy.

It also requires DOE, DOT and EPA to study the optimization of flexible fuel vehicles to determine what fuel efficiencies could exist when operating on E85. The bill also requires a study on the effects of different levels of biodiesel blends (B5, B10, B20, B30 and B100) on engine and engine systems performance and durability.

Should ASTM no have established a standard for B20 biodiesel within a year following the enactment of the bill, the Administrator of the EPA is tasked to initiate a rulemaking to establish a uniform per gallon fuel standard for such a fuel.

The bill authorizes the appropriation of $500 million for the period of fiscal years 2008 through 2015 for grants to encourage the production of advanced biofuels. A project much achieve at least an 80% reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions to be eligible for such a grant.

The bill also requires a report to Congress on any research and development challenges inherent in increasing the biodiesel and biogas components of the fuel pool in the US. Another required report will update Congress on the status of the R&D on the use of algae as a feedstock for biofuels.

Other aspects of the bill touch on the development of a biofuel refueling infrastructure, an ethanol pipeline feasibility study, and transportation of renewable fuel via railroad and other modes of transportation.
With a stroke of the pen, both here and then tomorrow when the President signs the bill, we will set America on a path to save more than 4 million barrels of oil per day by 2030. That’s twice the amount of oil we import from the Persian Gulf alone.

With one stroke of the pen, America can be on a path to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 25 percent of what we need to do to save the planet. With one stroke of the pen, we set America on a path to produce $22 billion in annual savings to our consumers. With one stroke of the pen, we take America down a path to create hundreds of thousands of new green jobs and train 3 million workers for new green jobs.
- Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House
Fuel economy
In addition to raising CAFE standards to an average 35 mpg by 2020, the bill also contains some provisions that provide support for the electrification of transportation; improved standards for appliances and lighting; energy savings in buildings and industry; energy savings in government and public institutions; support for research into solar, geothermal, marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies, and energy storage for transportation and electric power; research, development and demonstration of carbon capture and sequestration; the modernization of the electric grid; and a variety of other initiatives.


GCC: House Sends Energy Bill to President Bush; New Renewable Fuel Standard - December 19, 2007.

Speaker of the House: Pelosi Statement on Signing Energy Bill and Sending It to the President - December 18, 2007.

Biopact: U.S. Senate passes weakened energy bill: six-fold increase in ethanol target - December 14, 2007

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