Battered by virus and oil slump, biofuels fall out of favour

Posted: November 27, 2020 by oldbrew in Energy

Another battering looms as electric cars are soon to be forced on many car buyers by legislation. Maybe agriculture will get some of its lost land back for food production.
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Hit by the coronavirus pandemic and a sharp drop in oil prices, biofuel demand has declined for the first time in two decades and may struggle to recover, according to experts.

“The collapse of oil prices has had a very negative impact on biofuels,” rendering them uncompetitive, Olivier Lemesle, director of studies at Xerfi, told AFP (via TechXplore.)

The production of biofuels for transport in 2020 is expected to decline 11.6 percent on 2019 levels, the first fall in 20 years, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) annual report, published in early November.

Of all renewable energy sources, biofuel usage has decreased the most due to the coronavirus outbreak, the group said.

While the cost of the equivalent of a barrel of biodiesel has remained at around $70 throughout the pandemic, the price of crude oil plunged at the beginning of the year when drastic coronavirus lockdown measures cut demand.

The price of a Brent oil barrel has since recovered but has remained below $50 since March 6, when it fell below the threshold for the first time since 2018.

Environmental solution

The plant-based substitutes for petrol and diesel still hold some advantages, particularly in terms of the environment, as they emit 50 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than their fossil fuel equivalents.

“Biofuels have their place, they are part of the environmental solution,” said Jean-Phillipe Puig, chief executive of the Avril group, which derives nearly a third of its turnover from biofuels.

However, in addition to the damaging oil prices, the industry is still reliant on politicians and whether they decide to raise the proportion of biofuel that can be mixed with conventional fuels and sold at the pump.

Another issue is that the first generation of biofuels made from sugar beet, wheat and corn are taking large quantities of staples out of the food systems of many countries.

The industry is also threatened by the development of the electric car, and in the longer term hydrogen engines.

High hopes

Guy Maisonnier, an expert from the French Institute of Petroleum (IFP Energies nouvelles) research group, has said the industry should focus on aviation because it “doesn’t have as many alternative solutions” as road transport.

Full article here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    Start saving now…

    Motorists face £700 billion bill for going electric
    Date: 27/11/20 Global Warming Policy Forum

    A new estimate of the cost of decarbonising private transport suggests that motorists might have to foot a bill for £700 billion if they want to stay on the roads. Ongoing motoring costs could double.

  2. saighdear says:

    Time to nuke the Anti-motorist brigade. THought there was an EU law mandating use of % Bio in our fuels? ( regardless of cost ?) and otherwise, yes, just a Carbon tax. Stupid people. TAX TAX TAX WHY? save money, spend less, tax less. Nigel, where are youoooooo?

  3. saighdear says:

    3% Solar, 1% wind SEVEN % coal today with 4.334GW demand @ 49Hz ….. and we want to tap in our cars ? Bloody Fools.

  4. saighdear says:

    What would they have done without ANY liquid hydrocarbon fuel? do all this with electric trucks?
    MAYBE should besetting the exmple and doing it all WITH Electric or hydrogen powered vehicles from the get-go. Missed a Great R&D opportunity to test

  5. Coeur de Lion says:

    Any electric car charged from yesterday to Monday will be near enough on gas/ nuclear.

  6. Chaswarnertoo says:

    About 10 years of lithium and cobalt left, but around 100 years of oil….

  7. BoyfromTottenham says:

    saighdear – Here in Oz a few years ago some state governments in a fit of virtue signalling mandated the addition of a certain annual amount of ethanol ‘biofuel’ at 10% to regular ULP, subsidised the production of ethanol (from grain, etc.) and gave it another subsidy at the pump to encourage its use. Then the punters woke up to the fact that the ethanol damaged their vehicles’ rubber parts and I think fibreglass fuel tanks as well, and stopped buying it. In desperation, one state even mandated recently that service stations must sell a certain amount of this rubbish fuel each month. Guess what happened? The distributors started secretly reducing the %age of ethanol in this ‘cheap’ fuel down to almost zero but got caught, resulting in the government recently taking them to court. I have no idea where the missing ethanol went, or whether it was even produced. Scams on top of scams.

  8. Phoenix44 says:

    We are going to need all the land we can get for food if we carry on down this road of monumental stupidity.

  9. saighdear says:

    Yes, BoyfromTottenham, – I’ve sid manys a time before thatthe Government is made up of Crooks naw, C R O O K S ( Big time) and if not, the Civilservice -who actually RUNS the country ? Laws are brought in and all it does is generate scams – we had the BS5750 in recent times for our younger audience, and so on it went – all these energy scams- call centres promising the earth, taking up your time on the phone and then the visits – and then nothing – NOTHING – ‘cos the old draughty farmhouse is TOO OLD and has no cavity walls to fill etc. and so on it goes.AND the MSM helps promote it. wish we could have done something such so definitive as you describe. ( Last winter it was FAME in agric diesel that really aggravated some farmers ) So don’t talk to us abou Bio-fuels! — but then again farmers are falling for the gravy train ofPRODUCING bio-fuels – ‘cos there’s MONEY mone money in it ……Should be SHAMED..

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