Roland Dürre
Tuesday August 21st, 2012

Biomass Fuel

IF blog is now in the middle of its Summer Slump . I am staying near the beach for two weeks, seeing to duerre.de. And I add a few “catch phrase articles” to the “keywords”. Here is one of yesterday on “Biomass Fuel”:

As I see it, biomass fuel is the worst solution if we want to continue indulging in our current individual and otherwise mobile habits in the future. I fail to understand how anybody could introduce a law forcing everybody to add some biomass fuel to the normal fuel.

In 2009, Stefan Lauer, one of the Lufthansa managing directors, gave a presentation at TUM. From him, I heard that, just in order to produce enough biomass fuel for running all his airplanes, you would need an area as big as Europe.  At the time, he talked rapeseed. Consequently, the vision was a completely yellow Europe.

Decades ago, we started talking about renewable raw materials and environment-friendly behaviour in connection with biomass fuel. And I got quite dizzy when I first heard about it.

A few years later, when the subsidies and regulations started coming in FRG, the EU and both Americas, promoting biomass fuel and demanding 5 to 10 %, my dizziness got worse.

And now we in Germany grow more corn than anything else. In former times, corn – because of its detrimental effect on the soil – had no chance against reasonable crop rotation. And we imported palm oil from countries where people went hungry. Mind you, all this happened in order to fulfill the bio-quota for fuel!?

Can this actually be true? Here is what happens: we are sealing soil at a terrific speed. And on the remaining meadows, we grow energy plants such as corn. These plants can produce extremely much biological mass in the shortest possible time. Or else, we cut down the rain forest and grow “energy plants” on soil that is not suitable for it. This is depletion, instead of nurturing our soil.

Mind you, it all happens just so we can satisfy our thirst for fuel. We even ignore the fact that the energy used up for producing biomass fuel is quite a significant part of what we “produce” in energy.

And simultaneously, the general world-wide food situation gets more and more critical due to climate change and other developments caused by us humans? Can this really be true?

Mind you, individual traffic is one of the sectors where you could economize considerably. Instead of adding 10 % biomass fuel, you could save huge quantities by simple means. A drastic speed limit would already give us some per cents. Incidentally, it would also save quite a few lives and protect human bodies from physical damage. Our general driving habits, too, would become a little more rational.

In addition, you could save a lot if you de-emotionalized cars, building reasonable models that need less fuel.

The waste of fuel in individualized traffic might also be reduced by intelligent systems for driving and transportation alliances. You could make car drivers use public transportation, bikes or energy-saving e-scooters.

But this is all too difficult for politicians. Which is why they bend their knees to the lobbyists and demand the irrational biomass fuel system.

Currently, an about face seems to be under way. During the last few weeks, I heard and read more and more and quite reasonably worded criticism against biomass fuel. It might easily happen that this lunacy is soon a thing of the past.

I wrote this article in 2012. In my opinion, the topic biomass fuel might well be obsolete in a few years.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

1 Kommentar zu “Biomass Fuel”

  1. Chris Wood (Tuesday August 21st, 2012)

    Hear, hear! New Scientist is normally very much on the side of the good guys. Yet they recently printed two articles about “peak oil”. One claimed “optimistically” that World oil production can (and will) rise for another decade. The second claimed that the first one got its numbers all wrong, and that oil production is already dropping. You could tell that both were written by Americans, because neither considered that it could be good for production and use to fall. (In Britain scientists have recognised for years that we need to cut back on waste of oil).
    Agriculture depends heavily on oil, so any oil used for anything else will lead to starvation, as well as serious climate problems. The developed world has largely given up on trying to reduce starvation. There are some successes, but they are just short-term efforts.

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