Select Committee on Environmental Audit Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter to the Clerk of the Committee from Peter Clery, Chairman of the British Association for Bio Fuels and Oils Recycling Carbon (BABFO)

  We are concerned about the absence of any meaningful reference to the major contribution which mainstream agriculture can make to sustainable road transport.

  Evidence to the "Greenfuels Challenge" shows that biodiesel creates nearly twice the energy needed to produce it and nearly four times if the by-product straw is used for power generation. Bioethanol is also energy positive but to a lesser extent. No other transport fuel offers these advantages.

  There is land within British agriculture surplus to the needs of food production. Possibly one million hectares. Biodiesel and bioethanol production is moving towards two tonnes or more of fuel per hectare. There is therefore the early potential for at least two million tonnes of fuel or 6 per cent of total UK usage of petrol and diesel. This production would have major environmental benefits as well as increasing security of supply which would exert a downward pressure on import prices. To achieve this output of truly green fuel all that is required is parity of fuel duty with the (fossil) gas fuels LPG, CNG, LNG, ie a duty rebate of about 40p per litre as recommended in the "Curry Report" on page 55. The Biofuels are at least as good as the gas fuels environmentally (greenhouse gases, tail pipe emissions, biodegradability, safety etc) and deserve the same duty rebate.

  The PIU Energy Review pins its hopes on hydrogen for road transport but has no ideas as to how the massive negative energy balance involved in hydrogen production will be addressed. It takes nearly twice as much energy to produce hydrogen as is available at the point of use. By contrast biodiesel produces twice as much energy.

  One PIU reference on page 12 states that "liquid biofuels may also have a role" but states that international effort is needed to develop the technology. This is nonsence—the production and use of biofuels are well understood throughout the world. The comment is a measure of the unfortunate lack of knowledge in the PIU of rural matters pertaining to liquid biofuels.

  Specialist biomass crops (willow and miscanthus grass) will not alone provide much renewable energy, the growers will lose money at the indicative prices and power stations may not pay sufficient extra to make the crops worth growing.

  The way forward will be for existing proven crops to provide biofuel for road transport (oil seeds and cereals) and by-produce straw for power generation. This will work, both in terms of finance and economic energy supply.

  All statements of a scientific nature in this letter are fully verifiable.

March 2002

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 22 July 2002