Denmark launches biofuel filling stationsUnited Kingdom
By Clare MacCarthy in Copenhagen
Environmentally friendly motoring has stepped up a gear with the launch in Denmark on Thursday of the world’s first nationwide network of filling stations that use biofuel derived from waste material.
Statoil, the Norwegian oil conglomerate, said it had converted petrol pumps at a third of its Danish service stations to Bio95 – a blend of 95 per cent petrol and 5 per cent wheat straw biofuel.
In Denmark, as in other countries, this straw is a waste product from wheat production and is usually either left to rot in the fields or burnt.
While biofuels are less environmentally hazardous than traditional petrol and diesel, their manufacture from food crops such as barley and sugar cane has been controversial. Critics complained that food crops were being diverted from the food chain and into fuel production, thereby inflating prices and causing food shortages in developing countries.
But the latest generation of biofuels, such as those being pumped in Denmark, do not have this side-effect. Steen Riisgaard, chief executive of Novozymes, one of the two enzymes producers behind the new formula, said the technology had multiple benefits.
“If implemented on a large scale it would bring job creation, substantial economic growth and combat climate change, all while radically improving Europe’s energy independence,” he told the Financial Times.
According to a recent study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, next-generation biofuel could create up to 1m jobs across the European Union during the next decade, while replacing 62 per cent of the continent’s imported petrol with greener fuel.
The biggest impact would be in the road transport sector. At present, commercial transport and private motoring are the EU’s heaviest CO2 emitters. The new biofuels, Mr Riisgaard said, could eventually reduce transport emissions across the continent by 50 per cent.
Wheat-based biofuel makes negligible difference in terms of motor performance, and engines require no modification to use the product.
The biofuel/gasoline blends currently available in the US are all 10 per cent and efforts are being made to increase this to 15 per cent. The proportion is higher still in Brazil, where all gasoline contains 25 per cent ethanol.
Although Denmark has scored a first by rolling out a network of second generation biofuels, there is no immediate prospect of a more substantial increase. The enzymes necessary for manufacturing Bio95 are available in quantity from Novozymes and Danisco, the other Danish enzyme producer involved in the project.But there is a bottleneck in actual fuel production. “We can only expect this to take off in a bigger way once more facilities are built,” Mr Riisgaard said
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