News from the BioEconomy
4th June 2017: Donald Trump pulls USA out of the Paris climate agreement
In pulling out of this global agreement on 1st June, USA joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not to commit themselves to reducing emissions and try and ensure that future generations can live on this planet.
Source: Donald Trump pulls US out of Paris climate accord to ‚put American workers first‘
16th May 2017: The legacy of petro-chemicals
Two recent articles have highlighted the long term legacy of petro-chemicals to our environment.
(1) One of the most remotest island in the world, Henderson Island part of the Pitcairm group in the South Pacific is covered by over 18 tonnes of plastic, estimated at 38 million pieces. This is the highest anthropogenic density ever recorded. Henderson Island is a UNESCO World Heritage listed island covering 3700 ha. Many of the pieces are old and brittle and buried up to 10cm deep.
(2) The body of Lulu a killer whale that was found dead in Scottish waters contained the highest level of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) ever recorded. PCBs were banned in the 1970s but their legacy lives on in the environment. Killer whales at the top of their food chain will accumulate non-degradable toxins, including PCBs in their bodies. PCBs have been linked to reduced fertility, which may be linked to their absence in British waters even when seals, a species that they feed on, is in abundance.
Please follow these links to read the full articles:
(1) 38 million pieces of plastic waste found on uninhabited South Pacific island
(2) Race is on to rid UK waters of PCBs after toxic pollutants found in killer whale
25th April 2017: Plastic eating caterpillars
Early work by Spanish researchers has identified that the larvae of the greater wax moth, a well-known pest in bee hives, was able to digest polyethylene plastic bags. Methylene bridges are found in both beeswax and many plastics including polyethylene. These bridges are impossible for most organisms to break down, however it is suspected that the greater wax moth has made it possible.
For more information please read the full article: Plastic-eating caterpillars could save the planet
21st April 2017: Britain’s first coal free day
On Friday 21st April Britain was set to have its first day of coal free power since the start of the industrial revolution.
Please follow this link to read the full article: British power generation achieves first ever coal-free day
20th April 2017: UK Government sell off Green Fund
The UK Green Investment Bank with over £4 billion in assets has been sold by the UK Government for £2.3 billion to a Macquire led consortium. Five independent trustees will hold “special shares” to ensure its green purposes are safeguarded.
For more information please follow this link: Macquarie-led consortium to acquire Green Investment Bank
9th April 2017: Continued global growth in use of renewables
A new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency shows that renewable energy capacity continued to grow in 2016, involving solar, wind, hydropower and bioenergy with global renewable energy capacity now exceeding 2000 GW. The most growth in 2016 was in Asia up to 812GW (41% of the worlds renewable capacity), but growth took place across all continents.
To read the full report please follow this link: RENEWABLE CAPACITY STATISTICS 2017
28th March 2017: Bioenergy supports rural jobs and minimises wildfires
A recent report by US Forest Services highlighted how the use of thinnings for bioenergy reduced the risk of uncontrolled forest fires, leading to healthier forests and helps to create and sustain rural employment.
For more information please read the full article: Bioenergy supports rural jobs, minimizes wildfires
21st March 2017: Ethical business means long term business
An editorial in the leading trade publication “The Engineer” highlighted that ethical business is good business, it brings long term economic benefit as well as environmental and social rewards.
Please follow this link to read the full article: Viewpoint: ethical industry means more long-term prosperity
24th February 2017: Fossil Fuel Subsidies
It is estimated that global fossil fuel production is subsidised by over $70 billion US dollars annually. Eliminating this subsidy of “zombie energy” would be the equivalent to eliminating all global aviation emissions.
To read the full report please follow this link: Zombie energy: climate benefits of ending subsidies to fossil fuel production
14th February 2017: Pollutants get everywhere
A recent study published in nature has identified highly toxic man-made chemicals present in organisms in the most remote place on the planet, 10kms deep in the Marina Trench in the Pacific Ocean. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl esters (PBDEs) were produced from 1930s to 1970s were the two persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that were investigated in the study. POPs are highly harmful to lifeforms, they accumulate in tissue and do not readily breakdown. PCBs and PBDEs were found in crustaceans in the Marina Trench at levels 50x more concentrated than found in crabs surviving in heavily polluted rivers in China.
Please follow this link to read the full article: Bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants in the deepest ocean fauna
10th February 2017: Dong Energy to stop burning coal
Dong Energy have pledged to stop burning coal by 2023, replacing it with sustainable biomass sources to generate heat and power as well as continuing to expand its wind generation capabilities.
For more information please read the press release: DONG Energy to stop all use of coal by 2023
6th February 2017: A world without waste
Can the global economy continue to grow without placing undue stress on natural resources? In 2007 a primary school teacher, Rossano Ercolini became the champion of a small Italian town of Capannori to be world leading. Rather than build a waste incineration plant they adapted a zero waste policy. Today the town produces 40% less waste and 80% of the remaining waste is recycled, with the town generating €2 million/year from sales of recycled material.
15th January 2017: A sustainable future
A recent report warns that current unsustainable consumption patterns will lead to economic stagnation, global warning and the gap between rich and poor to widen. This will fuel nationalist and populist tensions based on resentment of the “global elite”. This report advocates a wealthier, fairer and more sustainable path based on the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals. It has been backed by 80- major companies in a letter to Theresa May urging the British Government to secure “our long-term prosperity and the well-being of generations to come”.
To read the full report please follow this link: Better Business, Better World
15th January 2017: Increased use of renewables in energy supply
Assorted press releases have highlighted the increased use of renewables in our energy supply. For instance Drax advise that 40% of UK electricity was from renewables on Christmas day with 75% (on average 9.4 GW) from wind. According to the Guardian in the Netherlands electric trains are 100% wind powered with one turbine providing enough power in one hour for a train to travel nearly 200km.
Please see the articles for more Information:
(1) Drax: 2016 renewable energy makes it UK’s greenest Christmas yet
(2) Dutch electric trains become 100% powered by wind energy
9th January 2017: EC propose legislation for sustainability for all bioenergy uses
The proposed legislation takes a land based approach for installations with over 20MW installed capacity and encompasses the potential to recognises voluntary schemes.
For more information please see the article: PR – Bioenergy Sustainability Criteria Finally Gain Clarity
16th December 2016: Fossil fuel disinvestment now over $5 trillion per year
The value of assets committed to disinvestment from fossil fuels is now over $5 trillion per year. This is a doubling of value in less than fifteen months. To date 688 institutions, 58,399 individuals from 76 countries have committed to move their investments away from fossil fuel companies. Pension funds and insurance companies are now the largest sectors committed to disinvestment from fossil fuels, this reflects increased financial and fiduciary risk of holding funds in fossil fuel companies in a world trying to reduce global warming.
To read the full article please follow this link: The Global Fossil Fuel Divestment and Clean Energy Investment Movement
6th December 2016: Progress at Marrakesh COP22
A report by the British NGO, the Carbon Trust on the COP22 at Marrakesh highlighted four key themes:
1: Momentum remains strong. In spite of the Trump election, market dynamics are playing an increasing role in driving renewables over fossil supplies.
2: Everyone has a role to play with “non-state actors” moving further and faster than national governments.
3: Innovation is key to create a sustainable global economy that is affordable
4: Money is still key, for instance the $100 billion USD pledged by 2020 to support developing countries
Please follow this link to read the full report: What happened at COP22 in Marrakech? Four key themes
30th November 2016: New EC Renewable Energy Directive
In summary the six key areas for action are:
1. Creating an enabling framework for deployment of renewables. This includes the general principles that support schemes should be cost-effective and market orientated. It also simplifies administrative procedures and reinforces local acceptance of project
2. Maintstreaming renewables in the heating and cooling sector. This sector accounts for 50% of total European energy demand
3. Decarbonising the transport sector in a sustainable way. The European transport sector still depends on 94% on its transport fuel from fossil oil supplies.
4. Empowering and informing consumers. Consumers are the drivers of the energy transition.
5. Strengthening sustainability criteria. The EC is committed to ensuring that biomass is sustainable in that it: i) delivers GHG savings compared with fossil fuels, ii) does not cause deforestation or loss of habitats, and iii) is converted into energy with high efficiency.
6. Making sure that the binding EU targets are achieved on time.
For more information please see the article: Commission proposes new rules for consumer centred clean energy transition
4th November 2016: Paris deal comes into force
Under the agreement, all governments that have ratified the accord, which includes the US, China, India and the EU, now carry an obligation to hold global warming to no more than 2oC above pre-industrial levels. That is what scientists regard as the limit of safety, beyond which climate change is likely to become catastrophic and irreversible. However a UN review of national pledges to cut carbon emissions advised that they are not enough and that would still lead to temperature rises of between 2.9oC and 3.4oC by the end of the century. Delegates from nearly two hundred are meeting in Marrakech next week to try and find a way forward.
For more information please see the article: Paris climate deal enters force as focus shifts to action
1st November 2016: What are we going to do about methane?
A report by the Economist Intelligence Unit highlights emerging concerns about methane emissions. Methane has twenty times the greenhouse gas impact of carbon dioxide, it is estimated that methane accounts for 25% of warming experienced today. As “natural gas” methane is marketed as a low carbon fuel, as it emits about half the carbon dioxide of coal when burned. However across the supply chain tens of millions of tonnes of methane are lost every year. Curbing oil and gas methane emissions does not require expensive investment, often it simply involves tightening valves and repairing leaks. Experience from Colorado indicates that preventing these emissions saves money.
Further information can be found in the article: Methane: The next frontier for European climate leadership
10th October 2016: Studstrup power station now pellet powered
One of the world’s largest CHP plants is now biomass powered.Studstrup power station has now been fully converted to operate using wood pellets. The CHP plant supplies district heating to over 100,000 homes in Aarhus and surrounding district and generates electricity sufficient for 230,00 homes.
Please follow this link to read the full report: Studstrup Power Station now fueled by wood pellets
4th October 2016: Earth at its hottest for 115,000 years
This claims a recent paper prepared by James Hansen at others as a discussion document has yet to be peer reviewed as it has been launched to support a legal case. In the paper Hansen presents that due to man-made climate change global temperatures are now at their highest for 115,000 years when sea levels were over 6 metres higher than today.
To read the full article please follow this link: Young People’s Burden: Requirement of Negative CO2 Emissions
2nd October 2016: EU Governments agree to ratify Paris Climate change agreement as a bloc
Leaving details aside, such as Poland’s coal industry, EU environment ministers agreed to sign the agreement as a bloc, to be ratified on Tuesday 4th October by Parliament and followed by formal ratification by EU council the following week. To date 61 countries accounting for nearly 48% of greenhouse gas emissions have ratified the agreement. As the agreement comes into force 30 days after at least 55 countries accounting for over 55% of emissions have ratified the deal, EU fast tracking enables the agreement to come into force.
For more information please see the article: EU to ratify Paris climate deal
16th September 2016: Major insurers urge G20 leaders to stop subsidising fossil fuels
Major multi-national insurance companies with over $1.2 trillion USD in assets under management, including Aviva, Aegon NV and MS Amlin, have signed a joint statement warning of the risks of continuing to subsidise oil, gas and coal extraction. They have urged Governments at the G20 summit in Hangzhou next month to phase out these production subsidies, estimated by the UK Overseas Development Agency to be over $450 billion per year just from G20 Governments. In addition the International Energy Agency has estimated that global consumption subsidies exceeded $490 billion just in 2014. G20 Governments have pledged since 2009 to phase out subsidies to prevent catastrophic climate change.
Both articles can be found here:
(1) „Major insurers urge G20 leaders to commit to 2020 fossil fuel subsidy phase out“
(2) „Fuel Subsidies Are the World’s Dumbest Policy“
13th September 2016: Recent report highlights decimation massive loss in wilderness areas undermining global environmental targets
Wilderness areas across the world have been decimated during the past twenty years,: over 3.3 million square kilometres (one tenth of total) have been lost. These areas are critical to maintain biodiversity, for carbon storage and sequestration, for buffering and regulating local climates.
Please follow this link to read the full report: „Catastrophic Declines in Wilderness Areas Undermine Global Environment Targets“
15th August 2016: New process to reduce cost of biochemical extraction
A patent has been awarded for a new process to reduce the cost of chemical extraction from ligno-cellulose using the Organosolv process. The process developed by an emerging company American Science and Technology, involves a new solvent cocktail and process that reduces the cost of solvents and their recovery.
Further information can be found in the article: „AST receives patent for method to improve biomass processing“
11th August 2016: More countries increase renewable energy generation
(1) A key component of the transition to a more sustainable bioeconomy is the transition to the use of renewable energy for power generation. There are increasing reports of days in which more than 100% of individual country’s energy demands is being met by renewables, the latest from Scotland when on a particularly windy and sunny day 106% of Scotland’s energy demand was met by renewables.
In May earlier this year Germany met nearly all its demand at a specific time of the day, prompting power prices to turn negative during several 15 minute periods with consumers being paid up to €50/MWh to use electricity.
(2) Bloomberg reported last year that even without Government subsidy the cheapest electricity to produce in UK and Germany was wind power. In US the exponential growth in wind and solar power is causing a shift in production capacity as once built renewable operating costs are negligible compared with fossil generation, gas, oil or coal.
Both articles can be found here:
(1) „Scotland just produced enough wind energy to power it for an entire day“
(2) „Solar and Wind Just Passed Another Big Turning Point“
20th July 2016: Global temperatures continue to rise
According to US agencies Nasa and Noaa June 2016 saw the fourteenth consecutive month of record breaking temperatures. This is against records going back 137 years.
Please follow this link to read the full article: „Hottest ever June marks 14th month of record-breaking temperatures“
16th July 2016: US prepares for the bioeconomy
A recent report by the US Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National laboratory identifies that the US has the potential for sustainable production of over one billion tons of non-food biomass by 2040 to support their bioeconomy. This is from forestry and agro waste, future algae source and dedicated energy crops.
Further information can be found in the report: „DOE releases update of billion-ton report on biomass“
3rd July 2016: Ozone hole over Antarctica starts to heal
Whilst not directly related to the bioeconomy, this good news shows that if people and countries from across the world work together and changing behaviours, adverse environmental change can be addressed. Globally eliminating the use of CFCs that have an adverse impact on the ozone layer positive environmental impacts are emerging.
Please follow this link to read the full article: „‚Healing‘ detected in Antarctic ozone hole“
1st July 2016: Brexit will make UK climate change targets much harder
(1) According to experts the UK commitment to clean, secure and affordable energy has been dealt a major blow by the vote to leave the EU.
(2) Whilst celebrating the UK Government commitment to the UKs 5th carbon budget for a reduction by 57% in carbon emissions by 2027-2032 compared with 1990 levels, The UK Renewable Energy Association advises that the UK Government needs to back this up with ambitious energy plans to deliver on much needed energy infrastructure “The fundamentals of energy have not changed post-referendum, we still need new generation that is cost-effective, low carbon and secure”.
Both articles can be found here:
(1) „Leave vote makes UK’s transition to clean energy harder, say experts“
(2) „Government Confirming 5th Carbon Budget is Crucial First Step for Renewables Post-Brexit Vote“
1st June 2016: Investment soar in renewables
A recent report identified that investments in renewables in 2015 were $286 billion, more than double spent on new coal and gas fired plants. Nearly 150GW of new capacity was added in 2015 roughly equivalent to all of Africa’s generating capacity from all sources. For the first time, emerging economies spent more than rich economies on renewable power and fuels. Even with falling fossil fuel prices China, USA and India were the countries adding the largest share of renewable energy and renewables now accounts for 44% of total EU generating capacity. Over 8 million people now work globally in renewable energy.
Please follow this link to read the full Report: „Renewable energy surges to record levels around the world“
6th May 2016: Australian Environment Minister sees no link between coal and climate change
The proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine will be one of the largest in the world extracting 60 million tonnes a year. In addition to the climate impacts from burning this coal, increasing the port capacity to export this coal will result in disruption and damage to the Great Barrier Reef.
The article can be found here: „Greg Hunt: no definite link between coal from Adani mine and climate change“
5th May 2016: The business models behind international is no longer “fit for purpose“
Leading think tank Chatham House in a report warn that major international oil companies need to radically change their way of doing Business. The report warns that they face a choice between managing a gentle decline or risk a rapid collapse by trying to carry on as business as usual. The report considers that their problems are more numerous than just the recent fall in oil prices and a growing global commitment to tackle climate change.
Please follow this link to read the full report: „International Oil Companies: The Death of the Old Business Model“
4th May 2016: Record shipments of North American Pellets
2015 experienced a record of 6.1 million tons of wood pellets exported from North America. This was primarily to Japan and Korea from Canada and from US to Europe.
For more Information please see the article at Biomass Magazine: „North American wood pellet exports reached record high in 2015“
23rd April 2016: Paris Agreement formally signed by record number of countries
A record for international diplomacy was being projected by UN officials. They anticipated as many as 170 countries would be signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on Friday 22nd April. The agreement reached by 196 countries in November last year, including the three largest greenhouse gas emitters, USA, China and India, seeks to hold the increase in global warming to; “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”.
For more information please see the article: „Paris climate deal set to be signed by record number of states“.
8th April 2016: Iowa legislates to promote renewable chemicals
Iowa has passed legislation that provides tax incentives to promote renewable chemicals that uses biomass as feedstock for building block chemicals. They must have at least 50% biobased content and not to be sold or used for the production of food, fuel or feed.
Further information can be found in the article: „Iowa establishes PTC for renewable chemicals“.
15th March 2016: EU publishes study advising that bioenergy can have a significant carbon savings, reduce emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and at a much lower cost than using other renewables
The study „Carbon impacts of biomass consumed in the EU: quantitative assessment“ confirms that the use of bioenergy can have a significant carbon savings and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) after 2020 in the EU. The report was conducted by an independent scientific consortium composed of UK’s Forest Research, Alterra and VTT. It includes an assessment of the direct and indirect GHG emissions associated with different types of biofuels used for the production of electricity and heating and cooling in the EU under a variety of scenarios that look beyond 2015. The objective of the report it is to provide information on which to base further development of the role of biomass in the new climate and energy framework of the EU 2030. It also identified the importance of bioenergy in ensuring affordable renewable energy in Europe.
The study can be downloaded here: „Carbon impacts of biomass consumed in the EU: quantitative assessment“ (PDF).
10th March 2016: Report highlights Spanish investment requirements
A recent report identifies that Spain will need to invest €10 billion by 2050 to meet its climate change obligations. This investment will also significantly increase energy security and minimise Exports.
The Report can be found here: „¿Cuánto cuesta cumplir con el pacto de París contra el cambio climático?“.
4th March 2016: Oregon phases out coal power
The Oregon senate has passed a bill that will phase out coal power generation by 2020 and increase renewable energy generation.
Please see the report for further information: „Oregon ups RPS, goes coal free“.
3rd March 2016: EU bioeconomy €2.1 billion turnover and 18.3 million employees (2013)
The Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) announced at its general assembly the results of the first extensive macro-economic study on the European Bioeconomy. They note that bio-based industries already play a significant role in the EU economy and are a pivotal element in the transition towards a sustainable circular economy.
More information and the full report can be found on the BIC-Website.
March 2016: EU Consultation on sustainable bioenergy policy
The EU are currently undertaking a consultation of stakeholders on an updated sustainable bioenergy policy for the period 2020 to 2030. Responses are now invited before 10th May 2016.
Further details can be found here.
March 2016: UK loosing incentive
In a series of press releases the UK Renewable Energy Association has expressed concern with the UK energy policy and that this is holding back critical long term investments in the sector. It highlights recent proposals issued in the form of a consultation document that significantly reduce financial incentives in Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme, this scheme has helped to grow the biomass industry and to deliver the majority of the UKs legally binding renewable heat targets to date.
23rd February 2016: US invests in the bioeconomy
A recent report by the USDA highlights an ambition to transform rural America from a primary agri-based economy into one that „makes, creates and innovates“. Key facts within the report included: biobased products generate $369 billion and secures four million jobs to the US economy. It notes that moving 20% of plastic production to bioplastics would create a further one hundred thousand jobs.
The News Release can be found here: „Fact Sheet: USDA Investments in Rural Opportunity“
19th February 2016: Debate on sustainability of wood for energy
An article in the British daily newspaper the Guardian highlights the complexities of ensuring that power generation using wood has a positive life cycle Impact.
Please see the article for further information: „British power stations are burning wood from US forests – to meet renewables targets“Viewpoint: ethical industry means more long-term prosperityRENEWABLE CAPACITY STATISTICS 2017