How Thirsty is Energy Production?

Critics of renewable energy have dozens of reasons why alternative energy such as wind and solar just won’t work such as what happens when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. But according to a new report prepared by Synapse Energy Economics, “dirty” energy sources including coal-fired electric power, nuclear power and natural gas recovered by fracking, face an even bigger challenge. What are you going to do if the water runs dry?

The report, commissioned by the Civil Society Institute, finds: “Currently, 97 percent of the nation’s electricity comes from thermoelectric or hydroelectric generators, which rely on vast quantities of water to produce electricity … Water is increasingly becoming a limiting factor on U.S. energy production and a key obstacle to maintaining both electricity output and public health and safety. The constraints range from insufficient water supplies to meet power plants’ cooling and pollution control needs—a challenge likely to be exacerbated by fracking-rigclimate change, population growth, and competition from other sectors—to the high costs of energy-related water contamination and thermal pollution.”

Synapse Associate Melissa Whited noted, “Our electric system was built on traditional, water-intensive thermoelectric and hydroelectric generators. The water requirements of this energy system are enormous and leave it vulnerable to droughts and heat waves… Going forward, our water resources will be further squeezed by population growth coupled with the impacts of climate change. The massive water use of coal, nuclear, and natural gas generators will be increasingly challenged, particularly when alternatives that require little water, such as wind and solar, are readily available.”

Other key finding of the report include:

  • Thermoelectric plants withdraw 41 percent of the nation’s fresh water—more than any other sector.
  • The amount of water available to serve diverse needs is a growing concern across the country, from the arid western states to the seemingly water-rich Southeast. Thermoelectric generation compounds the stress already faced by numerous watersheds and adds additional risk for the future. If current trends continue, water supplies will simply be unable to keep up with our growing demands.
  • On an average day, water withdrawals across the nation amount to an estimated 85 billion gallons for coal plants, 45 billion gallons for nuclear plants, and 7 billion gallons for natural gas plants. Additional water is required to extract, process, transport, and store fuel, and this water is often degraded in the process.
  • Coal mining consumes between 70 million and 260 million gallons of water per day.
  • Natural gas fracking requires between two and six million gallons of water per well for injection purposes.

“Continued reliance on water-intensive electric generation technologies puts consumers and regional economies at risk of interruptions in electricity supply or on the hook for costly infrastructure investments,” said CSI Senior Energy Analyst Grant Smith. “To ensure a reliable, cost-effective supply of energy, these water-related risks must be fully accounted for in energy planning and regulation. Once the environmental costs of conventional fuels are recognized, it becomes clear that energy efficiency and renewable energy are bargains by comparison. These clean alternatives cause little if any harmful environmental impacts. On a full-cost accounting basis, clean energy would win out as the least-cost solution and solution that harbors the least risk, as our energy system would no longer threaten (or be vulnerable to) the quantity and quality of our water.”

Students Raise the Green Flag for Algae

5217a9d137b67.preview-300Students and professors at Utah State University are raising the green flag for algae with a record breaking small engine dragster. Earlier this month at the Bonneville Salt Flats, the Aggie A-Salt Streamliner clocked in at 73.977 miles per hour – beating the current record in their division of 72.102. The team hopes to set additional records with their algal-biofueled dragster during the World of Speed taking place in Utah’s west desert this week.

“The big benefit, once the price is brought down to where it’s competitive with regular diesel fuel, is that it would be a totally renewable fuel,” said USU Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor Lance Seefeldt in an article in the Cache Valley Daily. “It would come from CO2 and sunlight. Then when you burn it, it turns back into CO2 again.”

The team of students is racing with algae biodiesel fuel that they are researching, producing and testing themselves. Graduate student Rhesa Ledbetter said that a benefit of using algae is that other resources are not being burned up.

“Producing fuel from things like corn and soybeans, things that we actually use as food products, that’s a major concern. We are taking something that’s food and using it as another resource. It can also start driving up costs,” said Ledbetter. “So if we can use something like algae that’s naturally present, I think people are much more open-minded.”

5217a979e8f83.preview-300A year ago, the dragster set a land speed record while running on yeast biodiesel fuel. Seefeldt says the big difference is that yeast biodiesel fuel comes from cheese waste while algae captures carbon dioxide out of the air and uses energy from sunlight to turn it into usable fuel.

The multi-department project began six years ago and has been featured in such places as the National Biodiesel Board’s annual conference where attendees were fascinated to learn about both the research and the racing.

“This is super exciting because many of the other schools working on this don’t have what we have in our hands,” said Research Assistant Mike Morgan who is also the driver of the dragster. “It’s the opportunity to raise the flag for everybody else and show that it’s doable.”

Coffee Cup Could Become the Next Biodiesel Tank

yangliu1That hot cup of Joe in the morning could become more than just a jolt to get your body going; it could be the next tankful of biodiesel to get your vehicle going. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati are figuring out how to turn old coffee grounds into biodiesel, and Yang Liu, from the school’s College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS), will present his findings at the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) 246th National Meeting & Exposition this week in Indianapolis.

Liu and fellow researchers Qingshi Tu, a UC doctoral student in environmental engineering, and Mingming Lu, a UC associate professor of environmental engineering, used a three-pronged approach to converting waste coffee grounds into energy sources including biodiesel and activated carbon by:

Extracting oil from the waste.
Drying the waste coffee grounds after oil removal to filter impurities in biodiesel production.
Burning what was left as an alternative energy source for electricity, similar to using biomass.

The researchers launched the project in 2010, gathering waste coffee grounds in a five-gallon bucket from a Starbucks store on UC’s campus. After collection, they removed the oil from the waste coffee grounds and converted triglycerides (oil) into biodiesel and the byproduct, glycerin. The coffee grounds were then dried and used to purify the biodiesel they derived from the waste coffee grounds.

The researchers found that the oil content in the waste coffee grounds was between about 8 and 20 percent, while making a biodiesel that meets the ASTM International D6751 standard.

U. Tenn. Develops Biodiesel Contamination Detector

zilingxue1Researchers at the University of Tennessee have developed a biodiesel contamination detector. A news release from the school says the device, which can detect trace amounts of contamination, is the work of chemistry professor Ziling (Ben) Xue and doctoral student Jonathan Fong.

“The ability to detect biodiesel at various concentrations in diesel is an important goal in several industries,” said Xue. “There is particular concern over biodiesel contamination in jet fuel, because at higher levels it can impact the thermal stability and freezing point of jet fuel leading to deposits in the fuel system or gelling of the fuel. These issues can result in jet engine operability problems and possible engine flameout.”

Xue and Fong tested several dyes and found that the dye Nile blue chloride, dissolved in alcohol, can be made into a thin film with high sensitivity toward biodiesel contamination in jet fuel. They tested small strips of the sensor and found it could successfully detect amounts of biodiesel contaminant in diesel as low as 0.5 parts per million—ten times below the allowable limit of 5 ppm in the US—in less than thirty minutes.

The researchers point out the need for a quick and easy, direct way to detect biodiesel contamination because of the increasing safety needs in the vehicles biodiesel goes into. The new sensor can be used in a field-ready, portable reader.

Global Solar PV Module Installations to Increase

According to a new report, “Solar PV Modules – Market Size, Annual Production, Average Price, Competitive Landscape and Key Country Analysis to 2020,” solar module installations saw a significant increase from approximately 1.4 GW in 2006 to 29 GW in 2011, but the industry has started to move away from the initial spur.

Solar PV Modules CoverGlobalData’s latest report finds that the growth of the solar PV module installation market in 2012 was much lower when compared to the previous year, with only 30.25 GigaWatts (GW) installed. In 2013, installations are forecast to fall slightly to 25.4 GW, due to reduced government support in several countries, such as Spain, Italy and Germany. From 2014 onward, annual additions are expected to remain stable until 2020.

Germany was the largest consumer of solar modules in 2012, with annual installations of 7.6 GW, followed by China with 5 GW. China continued to be the largest manufacturer of solar modules in the world, boasting 66% of the total global module production in 2012.

Harsha Nagatham, GlobalData’s Analyst covering Alternative Energy, said, “With domestically available polysilicon, a favourable regulatory environment and an easily available inexpensive labor force, companies such as Yingli Green Energy, Trina Solar, LDK Solar and Jinko Solar have been leading solar module manufacturing with annual production capacities of over 1,000 MW each.”

According to the report, solar PV module prices have also dropped drastically since 2006, when the average price was $3.8/W. In 2012, the price of a module was $0.91/W, and it is expected to fall further over the coming years, reaching $0.25/W in 2020.

Nagatham concluded, “Solar PV is the third-largest deployed renewable technology in terms of installed capacity after hydro and wind. Emerging countries in the regions of Asia-Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa are expected to be the major markets in the future due to an increasing focus on green energy to help fuel economic growth.”

Report Shows Geothermal Continues to Grow

Global Market for Geothermal GEA reportAccording to a new report, there are strong growth signals in the international market for geothermal power. Released by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA), “2013 Geothermal Power: International Market Overview,” identifies 70 countries moving forward with nearly 700 geothermal power projects.

“The number of geothermal projects continues to grow as more and more countries recognize the potential economic and environmental benefits that geothermal power can bring,” said Karl Gawell, Executive Director of GEA.

Several of the report highlights include:

  • By the end of 2013 the global geothermal market is expected to operate 12,000 MW of geothermal capacity on-line.
  • There are 11,766 MW of new capacity in early stages of development or under construction in 70 countries and territories around the world. Additionally, developers are actively engaged with and exploring 27 GW (Gigawatts) of geothermal resource globally that could potentially develop into power plants over the next decade.
  • This year some of the first demonstration Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) projects provided electricity to grids in Australia and the United States.
  • Counties such as Uganda, France, Tanzania, Chile, and Rwanda have geothermal projects under construction or in the latter stages of development and will have their first operational geothermal power plants within the next few years.

Ben Matek, the report’s author, noted, “There are so many projects moving forward that just a year or two ago were ideas on paper. This demonstrates how quickly the geothermal industry is growing internationally.”

Members of the international geothermal community plan to discuss their successes and emerging market opportunities at the GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy EXPO in Las Vegas from Sept. 29-Oct. 2. In addition, GEA plans on releasing the background data from the report in early October.

Argonne Take Cues From Nature

Scientists working at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) are looking to nature’s catalysts, enzymes, for inspiration in their quest to find a more effective means of converting biomass into renewable fuel. The research is focused on inedible plant materials that contain cellulose (such as wood chips and switchgrass), which can be broken down into sugars and then converted into biofuels.

According to the researchers, it is a challenging process to commercialize because plant cell walls are tough and recalcitrant, meaning they naturally resist being broken down into sugars. Therefore this obstacle has made it difficult to produce biofuels at a cost and pace that can compete with petroleum-based transportation fuels.

ALCF researchTo address this issue, the research team from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado is using Mira, the ALCF’s 10-petaflops supercomputer, to conduct large-scale simulations of the physical behavior of cellulase enzymes. Naturally produced by some fungi and bacteria, these particular enzymes are being modeled because they effectively trigger the chemical changes necessary to degrade hardy plant materials into life-sustaining sugars.

“Through our studies at the ALCF, we hope to uncover how these enzymes can be manipulated to develop superior biological catalysts for improved biofuel production,” said Michael Crowley, NREL senior scientist and project principal investigator.

Crowley and his colleagues are carrying out the simulations to gain a fundamental understanding of the complex cellulose-to-sugar conversion process, known as enzymatic hydrolysis. With this information, researchers will be able to identify potential enzyme modifications and then feed their discoveries into experiments aimed at developing and validating improved catalysts. Continue reading

Students Fly the Skies with Biofuel

Purdue faculty and students took to the skies with biofuel when the Purdue Embrarer Phenom 100 flew during the recent Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture, an international plane show. The airplane was unique in that one engine was filled with traditional jet fuel while the other engine was filled with a biofuel blend prepared by the Air Force. The plane was flown from the Purdue airport to Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

According to David Stanley, Purdue’s Air Transport Institute for Environmental Sustainability (Air TIES) co-director, the demonstration flight was one of the first in the U.S. in which a university-owned jet flew with biofuels. This flight is just one in many that will bring Purdue closer to its goal of operating a green training fleet.

Pilot Lisa Lewis, director of flight operations at Purdue Airport, was joined in the cockpit by student co-pilot, Braxton Baker. Air TIES uses student researchers on their projects because they are the next generation of aviation leaders.

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 12.17.41 PMRichard Simmons, executive director of research at the Air Ties Research Center noted that while there have been many flights, they have mostly been with larger jets. This flight was unique, he said, because it involved a smaller aircraft in a university setting. Simmons explained that it is one of the first university jets to travel using a biofuel blend.

Upon arrival, the jet was taxied to the exhibit area and viewed by air show attendees.

“The fuel was approved and meets the same specifications as a jet fuel,” Simmons said in an article in AgriNews. “There was very little concern about performance. That’s one reason we want to go back and compare performance data and validate it.”

Before and after the flight, key performance measurements will be studied and selected system inspections will be made. During the flight, engine and fuel system measurements were compiled and corresponding data from previous research from the laboratory will be compared and analyzed as the basis for an exploratory paper on the use of biofuels in aircraft of this size. The biofuel Purdue is studying includes Camelina-based HEFA (hydroprocessed esters and fatty acid). Continue reading

Fungus & Bacteria Join Forces for Better Biofuels

Several University of Michigan researchers have joined together a fungus and E. coli bacteria to turn tough, waste plant material into isobutanol – a product that can be converted into biochemicals and biofuels. A paper based on this research, “Design and characterization of synthetic fungal-bacterial consortia for direct production of isobutanol from cellulosic biomass,” was published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Xiaoxia “Nina” Lin, assistant professor of chemical engineering, and leader of the research said her team used corn stalks and leaves to produce the isobutanol. Focused on creating a super team of microbial specialists, the team landed on the fungus Trichoderma reesei, an up and coming  star when its comes breaking down tough plant material into sugars. Escherichia coli, meanwhile, is relatively easy for researchers to genetically modify and the team used a strain developed by James Liao’s lab at the University of California – Los Angeles that had been engineered to convert sugars into isobutanol.

The Lin group put both microbe species into a bioreactor and served up corn stalks and leaves. Colleagues at Michigan State University had pre-treated the roughage to make it easier to digest. “If you’ve ever had puffed rice cereal, it’s somewhat analogous,” said Jeremy Minty, first author of the paper and a recent doctoral graduate in Lin’s lab.

The fungi turned the roughage into sugars that fed both microbe species with enough left over to produce isobutanol. The team managed to get 1.88 grams of isobutanol per liter of fluid in the ecosystem, the highest concentration reported to date for turning tough plant materials into biofuels. They also converted a large proportion of the energy locked in the corn stalks and leaves to isobutanol – 62 percent of the theoretical maximum. Continue reading

Dakota Bioprocessing Consortium Established

Four universities in North Dakota and South Dakota have been awarded a $6 million grant to establish the Dakota Bioprocessing Consortium (DakotaBioCon) to conduct collaborative research. The award is funded by the National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. The consortium includes North Dakota State University, the University of North Dakota, South Dakota State University and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

South Dakota LogosThe primary goal of DakotaBioCon is to establish a multi-state, multi-institution, multi-disciplinary research collaboration that will produce economically viable renewable replacements for existing petrochemicals. The research collaborators will use lignin as a starting raw material. Lignin binds cellulose fibers in wood and plants and will be converted into renewable chemical and polymeric alternatives to petrochemicals.

“The combined research talent at the four institutions in two states provides an opportunity to join forces to develop DakotaBioCon, maximizing research in the field of renewable replacements to existing petrochemicals,” said Philip Boudjouk, co-chair of North Dakota EPSCoR.

DakotaBioCon will leverage its relationships with existing programs and centers such as UND/NDSU’s Sustainable Energy Research Initiative and Supporting Education (SUNRISE) program, the SDSU-based SunGrant Initiative, and the SDSMT/SDSU-based Center for Bioprocessing Research and Development to achieve its objectives.

Phyllis E. Johnson, co-chair of North Dakota EPSCoR said of the project, “This project provides an important opportunity to use our research talents to create new, high-value products from agricultural waste products, thus strengthening further the largest sector of our state economy.” Continue reading

Univ. of Tenn. Develops More Sensitive Biodiesel Sensor

Embraer_170An issue that biodiesel runs into in the jet fuel field is the lack of tolerance for ASTM D1655, the jet fuel specification at just 5 parts per million (ppm) of allowable amount of fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) contamination. Biodiesel Magazine reports while that traditional analytical equipment, such as gas chromatography, Fourier transform infrared and high-performance liquid chromatography, cannot detect levels that low, scientists at the University of Tennessee have developed a more sensitive sensor:

[R]esearchers at the University of Tennessee have developed thin-film sensors with high sensitivity toward biodiesel contamination in jet fuel. Small strips of these sensors have been tested to detect the trace biodiesel contaminant in diesel at as low as 0.5 ppm in less than 30 minutes. The sensor also gives quick response to B20 in less than five minutes and may be used with the naked eyes. The sensors, developed by UT chemistry professor Ziling Xue, are intrinsically small, easy to use, inexpensive, and can be mass-produced for disposable applications. When combined with a portable reader, the sensors can be potentially used as a compact portable device for field applications. The university is seeking partners to commercialize the technology.

According to the article, another track in the biodiesel-jet fuel saga is getting a higher contamination tolerance allowed. Officials with the National Biodiesel Board make the case that allowing a higher level of biodiesel in the ASTM specifications for jet fuel than 5 ppm will make it much easier for pipelines to manage shipments of biodiesel blends in a manner that ensures jet fuel will always meet the specifications. In addition, the U.K.-based Energy Institute wants to test biodiesel at 400 ppm, four times the proposed allowable limit.

India & Australia Renewable Energy Investments Up

India and Australia, powered by policy support from the government, will increase their share of renewable energy projects in the near future, according to the recent report, Asia-Pacific Renewable Energy Policy Handbook 2013, published by GlobalData. In addition, the report finds China will remain the largest market in the Asia-Pacific region.

According to the report, Australia’s cumulative installed capacity for renewable power surged from 849 MW in 2001 to 5,968 MW in 2012. The cumulative share of solar and wind power accounted for 80 percent of the country’s total renewable power capacity in 2012, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 41 percent.

india-solar34 photo solarfeeds.comIndia has also invested heavily in solar energy, with the government expecting to deploy 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022. Furthermore, the country aims to increase the capacity of grid-connected solar power generation to 1,000 MW by 2013 and 3,000 MW by 2017, through mandatory use of renewables by utility providers.

Due to a rising number of new installations, the report finds China will remain the leading industry for renewable energy in the Asia-Pacific region, while retaining its position as the largest wind power market in the world with 75.6 GW installed capacity in 2012. In addition, the reports finds that favorable government policies and incentives in the Asia-Pacific region have become an important tool to boost the renewable energy industry.

“Most countries are supporting renewable sources in order to aid recovery from the economic downturn. Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and Feed-In Tariffs (FITs) are the two most prominent support mechanisms implemented by countries that are driving renewable energy market development,” explained Swati Singh, GlobalData’s Analyst covering Power.

In addition, the report details other incentives, such as capital subsidies, grants, rebates, tax credits and exemptions, as well as reduced-rate loans, being offered by these countries to help further promote the use of renewable power.

Growth in Wind Industry to Boost O&M Market

According to a new report from GlobalData, with wind energy capacity growing at rapid pace, the value of the operations and maintenance (O&M) market is expected to increase from $3 billion in 2008 to $19 billion in 2020. The report finds that more than 191 GW of wind power capacity was added between 2008 and 2012, which has drastically increased O&M expenditure from $3 billion to $7 billion in the same period, demonstrating a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15.6 percent.

Wind Farm near Galva Iowa Photo Joanna SchroederOffshore wind energy will continue to attract higher O&M costs in comparison to onshore wind, reaching a market size of $5 billion, or a 29 percent share of the total O&M market in 2020. Currently, the U.S. is the largest O&M market in the world, but GlobalData expects that China will surpass it to become the leader in O&M expenditure, with a 24.7 percent share of the market by 2020.

Prasad Tanikella, GlobalData’s Senior Analyst, said: “Higher turbine maintenance, high logistics costs and a lack of skilled manpower make offshore wind services more challenging than the onshore equivalent. Although onshore wind also faces similar issues, the impact of these factors on the offshore segment is more significant.”

According to Wind Operations & Maintenance Market, 2013 Update – Global Market Size, Share by Component, Competitive Landscape and Key Country Analysis to 2020, the growth in the wind industry’s O&M cost is largely due to the increasing age of wind turbines and the failure of components such as blades and gearboxes.

“This increase in market size is leading to a rise in the number of companies providing specialized wind turbine O&M services, which is in turn bringing the benefit of lower costs to consumers,” Tanikella concluded.

New Mexico State University Awarded $5M Grant

New Mexico State University (NMSU) has been awarded a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to improve algae-based fuel that is compatible with existing refineries. The principal investigator of the project, entitled REAP: Realization of Algae Potential, will be Peter Lammers, director of the NMSU Algal Bioenergy team.

NMSU Algae Photo BioreactorLammers will coordinate efforts at partner institutions that include Los Alamos, Argonne and Pacific Northwest national laboratories; Washington State and Michigan State universities and four companies, Phycal, Algenol Biofuels, Pan Pacific Technologies and UOP-Honeywell.

Key goals of the 2.5-year project are to improve the yields and stability of algal biomass and cultivation systems while also improving oil content at harvest. Each of the necessary process elements, or unit operations, required to produce drop-in fuels from algal biomass are targets for improvements by various team members.

NMSU’s key role will be to integrate all of the unit operations at a single location to demonstrate start-to-finish process compatibility. For example:

  • strain improvement work will be conducted at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Michigan State University and Phycal;
  • cultivation simulation and validation work will be conducted at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and NMSU respectively;
  • bio-crude extraction methods will continue to be developed at Washington State University;
  • quantitative modeling of the unit operations and integrated processes will occur at Pan Pacific Technologies, Algenol Biofuels and Argonne National Laboratory; and
  • Algenol Biofuels also will provide closed cultivation systems that dramatically reduce water losses to evaporation and enhance the stability of algae cultures.

The REAP award follows two other federal awards for the NMSU Algal Bioenergy team – Department of Energy funding through the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts consortium amounting to $700,000 over two years for NMSU to support the algal cultivation testbed located at the Fabian Garcia Science Center, and a National Science Foundation EPSCoR award for which NMSU will get $1.5 million over five years for the algal effort.

Land Availability Should Determine Biomass Use

According to a paper published by the nova-Institute on agricultural feedstock use in industrial applications, efficiency and sustainability assessed on a case-by-case basis Global Prod Capacity by region 2015should be the sole criteria in judging the choice of feedstock used. The paper reviewed the “food versus fuel” arguments surrounding feedstocks to help shed light on the debate on how feedstocks should be used. The institute further stressed that the real issue is land availability for growing biomass for different purposes.

The paper refers to studies asserting that, even after satisfying food demand of a rapidly growing world population, enough arable land would remain available for purposes other than food production. The authors argue that the best usage of these areas is achieved by considering the land-efficiency of different crops. Studies show that many food crops are more land-efficient than non-food crops. According to the paper, they require less land to produce the same amount of e.g. fermentable sugar (commonly used in biotechnology processes) than non-food crops or so-called second generation feedstock, e.g. lignocelluloses.

“Efficiency and sustainability should be the leading criteria when selecting renewable feedstock for industrial purposes, such as the production of bioplastics,” said Hasso von Pogrell, Managing Director of European Bioplastics, embracing the paper as a welcome contribution to the discussion. “If the industry were to neglect the use of first generation feedstock at this point in time, it would do a disservice to society and the environment,” he added. “In addition to being currently more efficient, the use of food-crops for industrial purposes has the major advantage that, in times of food crisis, these crops could be reallocated to food use.”

European Bioplastics is in favor of promoting the use of second or even third generation feedstock for industrial purposes. However, as long as food crops continue in many cases 13-08 use of harvested agricultural biomassto represent the most efficient feedstock by far, discrediting their use would be misguided and a step in the wrong direction in achieving the European Commission sustainability targets.

“This often very emotional discussion needs to be steered into a more fact based direction,” continued von Pogrell. “Only two percent of the global agricultural area is actually used to grow feedstock for material production and only 0.006 percent is used in the production of bioplastics, compared to 98 percent used for food, feed and as pastures,” he concluded.

These findings echo the conclusion of a study recently published by the World Bank, according to which an increase in food prices is largely influenced by the oil price. Biofuels and, by extension, bioplastics play a negligible factor here. The study looked at food commodities such as corn, wheat, rice, soybeans and palm oil and compared commodity prices to energy prices, exchange rates, interest rates, inflation, income and a stocks-to-use ratio to determine which of these drivers had the most impact on food prices.