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The Controversy with Bio-fuels Energy Economics Advanced Studies in Sustainable Energy Systems Hugo Santos Porto, 20 th October.

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Presentation on theme: "The Controversy with Bio-fuels Energy Economics Advanced Studies in Sustainable Energy Systems Hugo Santos Porto, 20 th October."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Controversy with Bio-fuels Energy Economics Advanced Studies in Sustainable Energy Systems Hugo Santos Porto, 20 th October

2 Bio-fuel: Any fuel (solid, liquid or gaseous) obtained from biological material (biomass) and that has not been transformed by geological processes (as is the case of fossil fuels). This definition includes: - Methanol, Ethanol, Propanol, Butanol, Biodiesel, Vegetable Oil, Bioethers (liquids) - Biogas, Syngas, Bio-synthetic Natural Gas (gases) - Wood, Agricultural wastes, Dried Manure (solids) - etc…

3 Geological transformation (10 7 years) Human transformation (hours/days) Bio-fuel Why do we want to use Bio-fuels? Ecological advantages Atmospheric CO 2

4 Size: Proven Oil reserves Color: Population Why do we want to use Bio-fuels? Social and economical advantages Fossil fuel production and consumption around the world is very heterogeneous.

5 Should we use Bio-fuels? The food versus fuel debate Most of the bio-fuels produced in the world are either ethanol or biodiesel. The world’s top producers of ethanol are the USA and Brazil. Sugary or starchy parts from the plants are used in the production of these biofuels and, for that reason, they are considered 1 st -generation bio-fuels. Source: Renewable Fuels Association, 2009

6 Should we use Bio-fuels? The food versus fuel debate The USA uses mainly corn (maize) to produce ethanol. ?

7 Should we use Bio-fuels? The food versus fuel debate Several oils and fats are used in biodiesel production. ?

8 Should we use Bio-fuels? The food versus fuel debate Clearly there are factors that have nothing to do with bio-fuels influencing food prices.

9 Should we use Bio-fuels? The food versus fuel debate It is very difficult to calculate the impact of bio-fuels production on food price increases.

10 Should we use Bio-fuels? Price competitiveness against fossil fuels Bio-fuels can be competitive or not. There is no clear-cut solution that guarantees it! Source: OECD/IEA – From 1 st to 2 nd Generation Biofuel Technologies, November 2008

11 Should we use Bio-fuels? Ecological cost and greenhouse gas emissions Although most bio-fuels release fewer GHG, the total environmental impact can be greater than the equivalent fossil fuel impact. Source: Empa – Technology and Society Lab, Life Cycle Assessment Of Energy Products: Environmental Assessment Of Bio-fuels, May 2007

12 The promise of 2 nd -Generation Bio-fuels Obtaining bio-fuels from non-food crops and wastes 2 nd -Generation bio-fuels make use of the lignocellulosic parts of plants (either from crops or wastes), and hence they do not compete with food crops directly. Source: Science, 325, August 2009

13 The promise of 2 nd -Generation Bio-fuels GHG emissions Bio-fuels obtained from lignocellulose can allow for drastically reduced greenhouse gas emissions similar or better than 1 st -generation sugarcane ethanol. Source: OECD, 2008 based on IEA and UNEP analysis of 60 published life-cycle analysis studies

14 The promise of 2 nd -Generation Bio-fuels Price competitiveness against fossil fuels 2 nd -Generation bio-fuels are always improving and the prices will decrease in the foreseeable future. Nowadays crude is at almost 75 US dollars with a tendency to rise. Source: Based on IEA World Energy Outlook, 2006

15 The promise of 3 rd -Generation Bio-fuels Using algae to capture solar energy Unicellular algae can have much higher production yields than typical crops. Gallons of oil per Acre per Year

16 The promise of 3 rd -Generation Bio-fuels Using algae to capture solar energy Source: - 90% of the algae's dry weight is absorbed CO 2 - 4,000 gallons of oil per acre, per year, at an estimated cost of $20 per barrel are achievable on a commercial scale. - It does not require fertile land or large amounts of water as traditional crops do. - The algal oil derived also has other applications in food ingredients, pharmaceutical, and health and beauty products. -Does not use herbicides or pesticides

17 Conclusions The controversy on bio-fuels is mainly due to the production of 1 st -generation bio-fuels. From the most common ones used nowadays, only ethanol from sugarcane can be considered as an acceptable solution. 2 nd -generation bio-fuels solve many of the problems of 1 st -gen. bio-fuels, including most of the food vs fuel argument, the cost competitiveness and the ecological advantages. However, since land and water is still needed for most production (even though it can be low-quality land) care must be taken to guarantee that indirect land-use changes are included in the LCA of the production of a certain bio-fuel. 3 rd -generation bio-fuels (algae) address the remaining issues with 2 nd -generation bio-fuels and can be produced in non arable land, with very little water and with very high yields. Technologies for 2 nd and 3 rd -generation bio-fuels are still developing but the promises for the future are very good already.

18 Thank you!


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