Biofuel-Based Electricity for Transport

As pointed out before, about 1% of primary energy use for transport worldwide con­cerns electricity (de la Rue du Can and Price 2008). Moreover, especially because the electromotor is more efficient than internal combustion engines, electric traction with electricity derived from power stations is relatively fuel efficient (e. g. Reijnders and Huijbregts 2007).

In Sect. 1.3, the types of organic materials that are currently used in electricity production have been outlined. It has also been suggested to use herbaceous crops that generate dried downbiomass, such as horseweed and sunflower (Kamm 2004) for electricity production. Substantial expansion of biofuel-based electricity production for transport is dependent on the social acceptability of electric traction in cars. Inter­estingly, there have been periods in which the social acceptability of electric traction has been high for types of car transport now dominated by internal combustion en­gines. In 1899/1900, electric motorcars outsold other types of cars in the USA (H0yer 2008), electric taxis were then highly popular and between 1900 and 1920, electric vans were important in intra-urban and suburban transport of a variety of goods in the USA (Mom 1997; Mom and Kirsch 2001). All in all, the 1880-1925 period was a golden age for electric cars in the USA and parts of Western Europe (Mom 1997; H0yer 2008). In the 1940s, vans used for the German postal services and for milk and bread delivery in Britain were usually electric (№yer 2008). Still, electric cars meet a substantial demand of large fleet owners in urban settings (e. g. as post office and street cleaning vans). Cars powered by electricity from power stations have, how­ever, only had very limited success among individual users (Gjoen and Hard 2002). Opinions diverge about their future potential. Some view the re-emerging interest in electric cars as an episode in a series of unsuccessful attempts to substantially increase the use of electric cars. Others predict that there will be a rapid and fast increase in the use of electric cars. Lache et al. (2008) suggest a rapidly increasing market share for plug-in electric vehicles in Europe, with lithium batteries as key enabling technol­ogy. Others suggest that large socio-cultural changes, major technical changes and substantial financial incentives are necessary to make plug-in, battery-powered, all­electric traction for cars much more popular in the future (Delucchi and Lipman 2001; Gjoen and Hard 2002; Chalk and Miller 2006; H0yer 2008).

When electric traction gets a much larger share in road transport, it is likely that two technologies will contribute significantly to its success. The first is better batteries. Prime candidates are currently lithium ion batteries, which for a specified electrical performance are, over their life cycle, less of an environmental burden than competing batteries, such as the lead-acid and nickel-based batteries (Matheys et al. 2007). The second is plug-in hybrid cars, which in their life cycle energy use may have an advantage over current hybrid cars (Samaras and Meisterling 2008).

1.7 Recent Development of Transport Biofuel Production: Volume, Costs and Prices

1.7.1 Volume of Biofuel Production

Some companies operating means of public transport which use electric traction have opted for ‘green electricity’, which may include biomass-based electricity pro­duction. No data have been found that allow a worldwide estimate of biomass-based electricity in electric traction. Still, the production of bioethanol apparently ac­counts for most of the current volume of transport biofuel production. The focus in the USA is largely on ethanol made from cornstarch, and in Brazil, it is mostly on ethanol made from sugar cane. China has also emerged as a major producer of bioethanol, preferentially from sugar cane, cassava and yams (Cascone 2007), and so has the European Union, producing bioethanol from wheat and sugar beet (Bern — des and Hansson 2007). India, Russia, Southern Africa, Thailand and the Caribbean are emerging as important producers of ethanol as a transport fuel (Cascone 2007; Szklo et al. 2007; Barrett 2007; Amigun et al. 2008; Nguyen et al. 2008). Estimated bioethanol production volumes for 2006 in the main production areas are given in Fig. 1.2 and sum up to a world estimate of 51 x 106 m3. The estimated world pro­duction of bioethanol in 2007 was 54 x 106 Mg (Monfort 2008).

The worldwide production of biodiesel in 2006 was probably in the order of

6.4 x106 Mg, with the share of the EuropeanUnionbeing approximately 77% and of


Fig. 1.2 Estimated production volumes of ethanol as a transport fuel in 2006 (Licht 2006; Antoni et al. 2007; Szklo 2007; Sanchez and Cardona 2008)

the USA approximately 12% (Canakci and Sanli 2008). In 2007, estimated biodiesel production was approximately 7.6-8 x 106Mg (Von Braun 2008; Monfort 2008). Recently, there has been rapid growth especially in Argentine biodiesel production capacity. Argentine biodiesel production is expected to grow to about 3.5 x 106 Mg per year by 2008/2009 (Lamers et al. 2008). Biodiesel production on the basis of castor oil is expanding in Brazil, though it has been argued that in view of properties and price, castor oil is unlikely to be competitive with palm oil and rapeseed oil (Mathews 2008b; Scholz and da Silva 2008). India, Malaysia, Nicaragua, and several Pacific island states are also involved in substantial biodiesel production (Grimm 1999; China Chemical Reporter 2007; Cascone 2007; Cloin 2007; Fairless 2007; da Costa et al. 2007; Runge and Senauer 2007). Much of the biofuels produced are for domestic use, but increasingly, biofuels are traded internationally. Brazil and Argentina are, for instance, emerging as major transport biofuel exporters.

Most of the biofuels which were produced for transport applications in 2006 were based on substances that are also applied as foodstuffs. Such biofuels have been called ‘first generation biofuels’. Biofuels can also be produced on the basis of other substances, such as lignocellulosic feedstocks and oils that are not foodstuffs. This category of biofuels has been called ‘second generation biofuels’. However, ethanol production as a by-product of the sulphite pulping process, Russian ligno — cellulose-based ethanol production and the application of Jatropha oil for biodiesel production have evolved contemporaneousto or even before first generation biofuels such as cornstarch-based bioethanol and rapeseed biodiesel (Grimm 1999; Zverlov et al. 2006; McElroy 2007). Also, algal biofuels are often called second generation biofuels, but several of the algae considered for this purpose have current applica­tions as food.

Moreover, as it is apparently felt that second generation is somehow better than first generation, the former designation is used in strange ways, for instance for de — oxygenated and hydrogenated edible vegetable oils (Rantanen et al. 2005; Mikko — nen 2008). For these reasons, the designations first and second generation will not be further used. It seems likely that biofuels made from substances that may also serve as food or feed will dominate the supply in the near future. Plans for other types of biofuel, when implemented, will by 2010 probably not be able to supply more than 1% of overall biofuel production, and such biofuels are unlikely to allow for large-scale replacement of biofuels from substances such as sugar, starch and edible vegetable oil before 2020 (Gibbs et al. 2008; OECD 2008).

Growth of biofuel production and/or consumption is foreseen in a number of countries. In Brazil, sugar cane production, as feedstock for ethanol, is expected to grow from 425 x 103 Mt in 2006 to 728 x 103 Mt in 2012 (Macedo et al. 2008), while the mandate for Brazilian biodiesel is set at 5% for 2013. In 2007, the USA mandated a growth of bioethanol production from 4.7 billion gallons in 2007 to 36 billion gallons by 2022. In 2008, there were, however, calls for revision of this target in the US Congress (Doering 2008). In 2008, Canada mandated a 5% ethanol blend in gasoline by 2010 and a 2% biodiesel blend in on-road diesel by 2012. The European Union in 2007 suggested a 10% share of biofuels in transport fuels by 2020, which in 2008 was hotly debated.

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