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Posts tagged “green diesel”

By Robert Rapier on Aug 28, 2014 with 29 responses

Global Biofuels Status Update

Introduction to the GSR

Today I want to take a deep look at the global biofuels picture, drawing mainly from the Renewables 2014 Global Status Report (GSR) that was released in June by REN21, the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century. I had intended to draw data primarily from the recently released Statistical Review of World Energy 2014, but I believe that the GSR is the most comprehensive report available when it comes to the global renewable energy picture. The GSR has more complete renewable energy data than the BP Statistical Review, but both reports complement each other. Full disclosure, however, I have been a contributor to the GSR for the past five years.

Before I begin, let me introduce REN21 and what are they trying to achieve. From the foreword to the 215-page report: CONTINUE»

By Robert Rapier on Oct 23, 2011 with 74 responses

Visit and Conversation With Executives at Solazyme

On October 13, 2011 I paid a visit to Solazyme’s headquarters in San Francisco. For those who are unfamiliar with Solazyme, they produce oil from genetically modified algae. The company was founded in 2003 by two college friends, Jonathan Wolfson and Harrison Dillon. I had previously visited with Dr. Dillon at the 2009 Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy in Honolulu. Harrison is Solazyme’s Chief Technology Officer, and he filled me in on some of what the company was doing at that time. This time I was going to have a chance to interview Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wolfson. A lot has happened since that meeting with Harrison in 2009. Solazyme has delivered hundreds of thousands of gallons of… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 2, 2010 with 104 responses

The Palm Oil Conundrum

People sometimes ask which biofuels are competitive head to head with crude oil. By competitive, I mean those that can actually compete favorably with oil prices on a level playing field (i.e., they don’t require big subsidies or mandates in order to compete). There are two that always come to mind: Ethanol from sugarcane (although less competitive currently due to high sugar prices) and fuel from palm oil (oil derived from the fruits of the African Oil Palm). In fact, in the first book chapter I wrote in 2007 (Renewable Diesel in Biofuels, Solar and Wind as Renewable Energy Systems: Benefits and Risks) I highlighted palm oil as a crop with great promise, but also great environmental risk: By far… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 4, 2010 with no responses

The Wheels Come Off the Biodiesel Wagon

Domestic Biodiesel Production Plummets One of my Top 10 Energy Stories of 2009 involved the actions taken by the EU against U.S. biodiesel producers. U.S. tax dollars had been generously subsidizing biodiesel that was being exported out of the U.S. European producers couldn’t compete against the subsidized imports, so the EU effectively cut off the imports by imposing five-year tariffs on U.S. biodiesel. This was a big blow to U.S. biodiesel producers, and was one of the factors leading to a disastrous 2009 for U.S. biodiesel production. How disastrous was 2009? Per the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), here are the statistics from the past 6 years of biodiesel production: 2004: 25 million gallons 2005: 75 million gallons 2006: 250 million… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 3, 2009 with no responses

Answering Reader Questions 2009: Part 2

In this installment, I continue to work my way through the list of questions recently submitted by readers. This post picks up where Part 1 left off, and covers coal-to-liquids, technology hype, green gasoline, refining improvements, allocation of money toward renewables, electricity consumption, the Automotive X Prize, Big Oil, cellulosic ethanol, and Exxon’s recent algae announcement. The Questions Benny wrote: Arlington researchers’ work could lead to $35-a-barrel oil. Any chance of making oil from lignite? At these prices? Or are they just some guys who want research money? Answer takchess wrote (and Doug also asked about): Thought this was interesting. If cost and technically feasible this would be cool. Rive Technology Working to Increase Oil Refining Efficiency 7-9% by 2011… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jun 24, 2009 with no responses

John Benemann Responds to Green Algae Strategy Review

I recently published a review of Mark Edward’s book Green Algae Strategy: End Oil Imports And Engineer Sustainable Food And Fuel. Following this review, I published a response from Mark Edwards. In that response, Professor Edwards mentioned Dr. John Benemann, who was Principal Investigator and main author of the U.S. DOE Aquatic Species Program (ASP) Close-Out Report: Skeptics abound in the algae space and the leading skeptic, Dr. John Benemann, speaks at all the algae conferences and stands in stark contrast to many other equally experienced scientists who do not share his natural pessimism. John revels in his reputation for pessimism. Other scientists engaged in the Aquatic Species Report have a completely opposite view. Several are working for companies that… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jun 15, 2009 with no responses

Response to Green Algae Strategy Review

I have received a response from Mark Edwards, auther of Green Algae Strategy: End Oil Imports And Engineer Sustainable Food And Fuel. I reviewed the book here recently, and as I indicated in the conclusion of the review I would gladly post any of Mark’s comments. So, here they are in full. I have added clarifications, such as to indicate when Mark is quoting me [e.g., RR quote]. I have otherwise tried to keep the formatting consistent with what Mark sent me. No further response from me. —————————————– Response to Green Algae Strategy Review Thank you for the review and the opportunity to respond to your thoughtful comments. Your observations are right on target for someone focused on algal oil… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jun 4, 2009 with no responses

Book Review: Green Algae Strategy

Introduction I love to read. I particularly enjoy books about energy, sustainability, and the environment. One of the benefits of reviewing books is that I end up getting a lot of free books on these topics. One thing about getting free books, though, is that I have to be careful that it doesn’t impact my objectivity. After all, the publisher or author was nice enough to send me this free book. How do I then approach the matter if I sharply disagree with some aspects of the book? I am on record as being very skeptical about the ability of algal biodiesel to scale up and contribute significantly toward liquid energy supplies. Mark Edwards, a Professor of Strategic Marketing and… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on May 14, 2009 with no responses

Congress Kills a Biofuel Project

If we are to seriously encourage a move to biofuels, incentives are going to be required because the economics of biofuels just can’t compete with petroleum (regardless of what Vinod Khosla thinks). Eventually depletion will cause petroleum to become very expensive, and then the economics of certain biofuels (especially those with the best energy returns) are going to start looking a lot better. But if depletion occurs quickly, we are going to wish that we had provided encouragement for all sorts of alternatives. Of course not all alternatives are created equally, and there are often unintended consequences to deal with. But overall, Congress and now two administrations in a row have shown overwhelming support for incentivizing biofuel production. There is,… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on May 3, 2009 with no responses

We Do Not Have a Simple Solution

Those were the words of Helena Chum, a research fellow at NREL on the topic of advanced biofuels. Forbes just published an article on this: Biofuels Battle: Chemistry Versus Biology A lot of the subject matter and the companies discussed will be familiar to regular readers. There are 1,865 biofuels companies out there, and sometimes it seems that there are at least 1,865 different ways of turning every manner of biological material into fuel for a car, truck, train or plane. The problem is finding a way of doing this alchemy on the scale of millions of gallons a year at a cost that comes somewhere near the price of gasoline without leveling the world’s forests, sucking the world’s fresh… Continue»