18 Juli 2012

BP Biofuels: Europe in danger of falling behind US on advanced biofuels

Two fuels and a new sugar-to-diesel product to be trialled in 100 vehicles during the "London 2012 Olympic Games"

Phillip New, Chief Executive of BP Biofuels, has warned that Europe is in real danger of falling behind the US in developing advanced biofuels as policy fails to support their potential. Speaking at BP’s Fuelling the Future event in London yesterday, New said that more stability and certainty around biofuel regulation was needed to increase investment in alternative fuels. “Uncertainty (in biofuel regulation), however characterised, tends to suppress investment and therefore suppress the development of alternatives to the current status quo,” said Mr New.

Biofuels could account for 9 per cent of global transport fuels used by 2030, up from 3 per cent now, according to BP. Drivers include climate-change targets in the US and Europe, energy security concerns and the possibility the fuels may be a lucrative crop for ailing rural communities.

“If you believe that demand for transport fuels is going to grow significantly, if you believe that for the foreseeable future we’re going to carry on using internal combustion engines and liquid fuels, then biofuels are going to be the only complement to crude oil that’s out there,” New said.

BP is currently testing two advanced biofuels that could be commercially available by 2014. BP currently operate a biobutanol demonstration plant in Hull, UK, and the company plan to build a 36 million gallon-a-year cellulosic bioethanol plant in Florida, US. Biobutanol is produced by fermenting plant sugars and can be blended with gasoline at higher concentrations. Existing bioethanol can be retrofitted to produce biobutanol.

Cellulosic ethanol uses micro-organisms to break down fibrous plants, making it possible to produce fuel from energy grasses. Unlike sugar cane, which flourishes around the equator, the grasses can be grown anywhere. According to New, BP is looking at new sites in Texas, Florida and Louisiana where it could farm energy grasses and build new plants.

The two fuels and a new sugar-to-diesel product will be trialled in 100 vehicles during the London 2012 Olympic Games, which BP is sponsoring.

Source: NNFCC, 2012-07-18.

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