Earlier this week, US President Barack Obama confirmed new initiatives to drive biofuels and clean coal, including an updated a renewable fuels standard increasing the amount used for transportation.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a long-term target that will require 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022, up from current levels of just over 11 billion gallons. Of the total, 21 gallons will have to come from advanced biofuels.
For the first time, the EPA’s National Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requires that some of the renewable biofuels must reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared with gasoline or diesel in order to be counted towards the target.
New efficient corn-based ethanol plants, soy-based biodiesel, biodiesel from waste grease, oil and fats and ethanol from sugarcane will meet the new standards, along with those fuels derived from cellulosic feedstock.
But most crucially, the standard now requires that biofuels must be made from “renewable biomass” feedstock. The new requirement will limit what types of biomass will be deemed suitable, as well as the types of land used to produce the biomass.
The move has received praise from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) for taking into account, for the first time, the effects of indirect land use emissions – emissions arising from changing land use to grow biofuel feedstock.
The California Air Resources Board has also welcomed the move.
“It is notable that both EPA [has] have determined that sound science compels the consideration of land use change in any lifecycle analysis of the greenhouse gas impacts of fuels,” says chair Mary D. Nichols.
For further information:
US takes steps to boost biofuels and clean coal (4-Feb)
Food or fuel? The biofuel debate rumbles on… (26-Jan)
Algal biofuels not as green as claimed? (22-Jan)
US invests $80 million in advanced biofuels, but is policy flawed? (14-Jan)
US Department of Energy awards $21 million for cellulosic biofuels (1-Sept 2009)
05 February 2010