Energy policy/regulatory issues

Energy is the only crop that never grows in surplus. Growth in demand for energy will accelerate. Concerning national energy security, military assets are not required to protect domestic biomass, as opposed to oil supply lines.

While biofuels are nowadays popular in helping countries to achieve energy targets, concerns over the environmental impacts of dedicating yet more land to agriculture mean that other (older) technologies need to be investigated as well in order to mature and realise fully their initial potential. To meet the increasing energy needs, development of a broad spectrum of renewables is required. Energy conservation and development of renewable energy sources, such as lower cost solar cells with higher efficiencies, should have high priority.

Without legislation in place, the biodiesel industry is not feasible. Almost all 52 US states and 27 EU member states have implemented (or are implementing) federal or EU biofuel directives, legal measures and (voluntary) regulations, though frequently in different ways. Harmonisation is much required here. Europe needs an EU-wide tax policy; the US needs increasing mandates on biodiesel. Governments need to proactively support development of sustainable, alternative, lower-cost feedstocks (algae, jatropha, castor, UCO, TLW) and next-generation technologies (renewable diesel, BTL, cellulosic diesel).

Shifting government policies towards biodiesel have recently been observed and are urgently required to eliminate devastating distortions, such as the US dumping competition in B99 blends. Splash-and-dash biodiesel is partly responsible for the present decline of Europe’s biodiesel production. The EU-US trade conflict is not in the interest of the global biodiesel industry. Once each country keeps their biofuels incentives strictly within their borders, applies their own incentives and bases them on the local sale of biodiesel, the product will once again become a regional solution to a global crisis.

Legislative priorities should ensure undistorted market competition between Big Oil (subsidised by war and Arab tribute) and Big Agriculture (opening up markets for biofuels to outcompete imported crude oil). Consumers are frequently being denied alternative choices at the pump with sound public policy that calls for unbiased market competition.

The growth in biofuels is being driven primarily by government mandates rather than by market forces. The industry needs sound government support until biodiesel can compete economically with petroleum fuels. Energy systems which do not pay for themselves over the medium to long term are not sustainable; market interventions (for example, subsidies or taxes) should be needed only in the short term to achieve essential goals. Improvements in energy efficiency are needed to reduce individual energy needs. An energy policy is only as good as its execution.

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