Europe and the United States alike have both “invested” ungodly amounts of taxpayer money into creating an artificial market for certain kinds of biofuels, as well as particular uses for said biofuels — i.e., forcing fuel companies to blend their product with specified amounts of these supposedly miracle substances — as part of the effort to bring about that all-consuming goal of reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change.
Unfortunately, despite years of special treatment from the government and their determined ambitions to transform their favored biofuels into a popular and ostensibly “green” fuel-mixing option, they have yet to catch on based on their own merits — and as it turns out, these supposed merits… well, aren’t. On Thursday, European Union politicians voted to scale back on their quixotically self-imposed quotas for food-based biofuels, not only because of their still comparatively high production costs, but because the marginal lands that they bring into production means that they really aren’t the environmentalist boon everybody initially wanted to believe they were, via Reuters:
EU politicians on Thursday backed a new limit on crop-based biofuels, to fix the bloc’s policy on transport fuels once thought to protect the climate but now suspected of doing more harm than conventional oil.
The vote in the European Parliament’s environment committee will be followed by a plenary vote later this year and will also require endorsement by member states, who are deeply divided on the issue. …
In 2008, an EU target was introduced to get 10 percent of transport fuel from renewable sources by 2020, most of which would come from so-called first generation biofuels made from sugar, cereals and oilseeds.
Since then, a series of studies has underlined the potential environmental damage caused by some biofuels, particularly biodiesel, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the estimated 13 billion euro ($16.71 billion) EU biofuel sector.
Most recently, a study by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) – the Commission’s in-house research body – confirmed the findings of earlier EU studies that biodiesel made from crops such as rapeseed does more harm to the climate than conventional diesel. …
Well, what do you know? Hey, maybe it’s not such a good idea to centrally plan your energy economy based on expensive and wildly optimistic greenish whims rather than free-market tested price efficiency?
But, alas; they won’t be backing down on their quotas and standards and what have you altogether, instead merely limiting the share of food-based biofuel used in cars and trucks to 5.5% of total consumption, via the WSJ:
However, it means that to meet its 2020 mandate that 10% of Europe’s transport energy comes from renewable sources, the bloc will be relying on a much-faster expansion of electric cars and commercially unproven biofuels made from nonfood crops. …
The EU wants to turn toward more advanced biofuels produced from nonfood crops or certain types of waste. But industry groups say that the new legislation will cause Europe to turn toward more fossil fuels, since these advanced biofuels aren’t yet ready for mass production.
Electric vehicles will represent between 2% and 8% of total automobile sales in Europe over the coming decade, according to forecasts from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association. …
“Biofuels were part of the solution less than five years ago and are now seen as a problem,” said Nathalie Lecocq, secretary-general of FEDIOL, the federation representing the European vegetable oil and protein-meal industry. “The industry will stop investing in advanced biofuels if the EU keeps sending conflicting signals and Europe’s record is so irreversibly tainted with major policy U-turns.”
Europe’s biofuels lobby is up in arms over the rule changes, and of course, that’s a story with which the United States is all too familiar. We, too, have a Renewable Fuels Standard that requires fuel companies to mix in some amounts of biofuels with their fuel, and it is turning out to be a remarkably stupid experiment that nobody but nobody except that ethanol lobby and their cronyish buddies in the Obama administration even like. Congress has been making moves on partially or fully repealing the standard — let’s hope they do the right thing.