U.S. Unlikely to Meet Biofuel Targets

Costs for a car running on cellulosic biofuel is getting less and less likely in the U.S.


The National Research Council in that country has just issued a report about the likelihood that the U.S. would meet biofuel targets set by the current Renewable Fuel Standard.


According to the report biofuels would only be able to compete with petrol-based fuels in an environment with high oil prices, technological breakthroughs and a high carbon price.  It even goes as far as suggesting that the Renewable Fuel Standard may not be effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide because the effectiveness of biofuels is largely determined by how they are produced and also what land changes take place.


The Renewable Fuel Standard was approved by lawmakers in 2005.  It forms part of the Energy Policy Act and was amended in 2007.  It determined that emissions should be reduced by at least 20% before 2022.  It also set targets for the use of conventional biofuels, biomass-based diesel fuel, advanced renewable biofuels and cellulosic biofuels.


The committee now believes that while mandates for biomass-based diesel fuels and conventional biofuels would be met, it is uncertain whether the same is true for cellulosic biofuels.


The reasons for this are manifold, says the committee.  There are various environmental, policy and social barriers to the production of high quantities of cellulosic biofuels, including the high capital requirements to set up production facilities and the high cost compared to that of petrol-based fuels.


The report also questions whether re-allocating land for the production of dedicated energy crops would, in fact, have the desired effect on greenhouse emissions.


Author - Louise Hutchinson

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