Thursday, 31 March 2011

Killed by Green Bombs!

Whilst we must welcome the United States's committment to renewable energy and their conversion to biofuels, but I'm not sure that this is what we hoped they would use the biofuels to power:
The use of biofuels to power half of the US Air Force (USAF)'s fleet by 2016 is a step closer after the successful test flight of an F-22 fighter jet at supersonic speeds, using a 50-50 blend of a bio-feedstock and standard jet fuel.

On 18 March, a Raptor plane was flown at 40,000 feet – and at one-and-a-half times the speed of sound – half-powered by a biofuel derived from Camelina Sativa, a member of the mustard family.

So what this means is that even more land for agricultural production will now be put aside for biofuels production; a point made by an Aerospace and Defence Industry spokesman from Brussels:
Alexandre Dossat, a spokesman for the Aerospace and Defence industry association in Brussels, said that there was now "proof" that biofuels could work for aeroplanes at subsonic and supersonic speeds.

But to keep from falling behind in the global biofuels race, "decisions should be taken now in Europe," he said.

"We need a massive scaling up of production," he told EurActiv, "and that requires support from political authorities to make available legislative incentives and subsidies to make sure that biofuels take off at this very initial stage".

Personally I share Greenpeace's Sebastian Risso's concerns,
"Biofuels are plant-based and they require a lot of land," he told EurActiv. "But most land in the world is already used so it causes a knock on effect either by forcing agriculture somewhere else or pushing communities off their land," he added, pointing to research which indicates an increase of greenhouse gases through the expansion of farming.

Risso's solution – addressing demand-side issues such as short-haul flights – received some surprising support from one biofuel industry insider, who wished to remain anonymous.

"I'm not sure a growth in the biofuel market would be a positive thing," he told EurActiv. "We'd have to see where the feedstock came from and make sure that the source was sustainable."

To me biofuel production equates to higher food prices and that can't be right.

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