Will the falling oil price undermine green energy?

This is an interesting piece on the BBC website discussing the effects of changes in the oil price with regard to the viability of investment in renewable energy. Interestingly, it is not the oil price that should be considered as a threat but gas…

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-31057078

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What is a lignofuel?

This was the question I posed for myself after reading about an event called Lignofuels 2015 in Madrid this week. Foolishly I thought a quick visit to Google and the worldwide web and I would have the answer.

But no, it was not as simple as that; I could find lists of events where lignofuels were meta tagged, or formed the title, but no straightforward answer. So, I posed the question in different ways to try and find a definitive Wikipedia, or similar, definition that I could reference and use as the basis to answer my question. But no matter how I posed the question the results were always the same – lots of event titles but no definition that neatly summarised ‘A lignofuel is xxx…’

So, after trawling through at least 20 pages of Google search results and optimistic viewings of related web sites I decided to ask GIS’s Biomass expert, Roland Jansen, about this term and he gave me the literal answer – ligno is Latin for wood therefore lignofuels means fuels from wood – I should have spoken to Roland earlier and studied latin…

In my search the closest I had found to a definition was posts about Lignocellulosic biomass on wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lignocellulosic_biomass)  and a WordPress blog on lignofuels (see link below).

Having read a little around the subject in my search for a definition my interest was piqued by lignocellulose so I continued down this route as a related extension to my original question. Lignocellulose is a term that refers to dry plant matter, which I had known as biomass, or to be more specific I should now know as lignocellulosic biomass; the most abundantly available raw material on Earth for the production of bio-fuels such as bio-ethanol.

I also learnt that there is a lot of research being undertaken at the moment to release the potential of lignocellulose to maximise its efficiency as a fuel. Much revolves around disconnecting the lignin from the cellulose to allow the sugars in the cellulose to ferment into a biofuel. Further detail on how that works is beyond my basic chemistry to add any value to what has already been written so if you are interested in further information this can be found on the wikipedia page above and from https://lignofuel.wordpress.com

However, as part of my research into lignofuels this morning I also watched a video about a Volvo project to fuel trucks using a bio-fuel called Dimethyl Ether (DME) – the results are very promising and show the potential for alternatives to fossil fuels and I look forward to more developments in this field and a day when our reliance on petrol and diesel will change.

Volvo reference:
http://www.volvogroup.com/group/global/en-gb/responsibility/infocus/events_projects/biodme/Pages/biodme.aspx

Biokerosene from Hybrid Tobacco!

An initiative by Boeing and South African Airways (SAA) to develop a renewable jet fuel sector in South Africa has announced it is to collaborate with SkyNRG on a project to produce jet biofuel from a new energy-rich, nicotine-free hybrid tobacco crop. The crop, known as Solaris, has been developed by Italian company Sunchem and test farming is already underway.

SkyNRG has teamed with Sunchem to scale up production and both Boeing and SAA will provide active support in securing further project financing and offtake agreements. The partners believe biofuel production from large, and small farms, can be expected within the next few years with oil from the plant’s seeds initially being converted into jet fuel.

Boeing and SAA are working with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) to help farmers with small plots of land to grow biofuel feedstocks that provide socio-economic value without harming food supplies, fresh water or land use.

Southern Africa has long been associated tobacco crops and it is an important income source for many farmers in the region, despite declining global production.

SkyNRG claims the Solaris feedstock can help to significantly reduce cost price levels towards fossil parity and has the potential to reduce 80% of CO2 emissions compared to fossil kerosene. In addition to producing vegetable oil, Solaris can also be used to generate valuable animal proteins and biomass for rural electrification purposes, says the Amsterdam-based world market provider of sustainable jet fuel.

August 21, 2014

Roland A. Jansen

Source: http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1954

Innovative Heating Project in Holland

The city of Rotterdam together with the ING bank, the utilities Eneco, E.On, Ministry of Economic Affairs, province of South Holland and the largest waste converting utility AVR have launched the “Heating Roundabout Project” which should be realised by 2020.

Heat, produced by industrial companies in the Port of Rotterdam, such as chemical companies and oil refineries, will be used in future to heat water and pump it in a gigantic “roundabout” in the province of South Holland to heat 350,000 houses and 1,000 hectares of greenhouses, used for cultivating vegetables and flowers. Holland has the largest flower cultivation industry in the world.

Total costs for the project are Euro 4.3 billion and the benefits are Euro 6.3 billion. The net result will be that 15% of all heating used in the province will come from clean renewable energy with an important reduction in CO2 emissions.

This project is unique in the world. Cities like The Hague, Delft, Leiden and Rotterdam will profit from the “Roundabout” as well as the local flower cultivation businesses as their energy costs will be reduced substantially. At present the majority of greenhouses are heated with energy from gas, which is four times more expensive in Europe than in the USA.

Roland A. Jansen

Roland A Jansen is CEO of Biomass Partners Ltd and a Non Executive Director of Green Investment Solutions, an ethical Forestry Investment Company. For further information please visit: http://www.greenis.co.uk