FUELS What the EU is promoting today is already tomorrow perhaps as Pooh. Now the biofuel policy put to the test. The European Parliament has to decide: What is the bio biofuel?



Jörg Jacob, 66, blue shirt, striped tie, black pinstripe pants, rushes through the warm, noisy factory building in a commercial area in the north-east of Brandenburg Pritzwalk. Constantly ringing his phone, but he wants to take the time to explain what he and his 55 employees are doing here: From tiny black rape seeds they press the approximately 40 percent oil content out to make it with a simple chemical reaction biodiesel.

As a business consultant Jacob companies of all kinds of industries rehabilitated. Four years ago, he consulted an ailing manufacturer of biodiesel, as it has gripped him: Together with partners, he bought shares in the plant in Pritzwalk, after he had made it through an insolvency process. Since May of this year and biodiesel oil mill plant are utilized and produce 130,000 tonnes of biodiesel per year, 44,000 tons of rapeseed oil, 88,000 tons of rapeseed meal (ie animal feed) and 13,000 tons of glycerin, a raw material in the chemical industry. The managing director of SME GBF German Biofuels could now remember to make money. If not for that decision would be in Strasbourg. There will vote on the EU biofuel policy and restrict the use of diesel from plants might strongly on Wednesday the EU parliament.

In 2020, the EU ten percent of the energy in the transport sector come from renewable sources, it was decided the Union. But what was meant well, showed dangerous side effects: Scientists warned against plant fuel in the tank because it was too inefficient. At best, ethanol, ie gasoline, made from sugar cane and sugar beets found grace in its calculations. In diesel from rapeseed, palm or soybean oil, however, even they saw mainly disadvantages: too low greenhouse gas savings to the large consumption of land in farming.

Development, environmental organizations and churches were up in arms against agrofuels: corn, wheat or canola in the tank drove the price of food in the air, before they expected. In addition, palm oil plantations and soybean fields repressed valuable rainforest and peatland. So the EU is adjusted gradually adopted a Sustainability Regulation: Only such biofuel must be mixed gasoline and diesel at the petrol station, no proven valuable nature was destroyed by, and are saved with the 35 percent of greenhouse gases compared to fossil fuels. The critics is not enough, they demand more restrictions. Which are now in Strasbourg for voting.

The situation in the EU parliament is typically complex, but roughly the deputies sorted into two roughly equal camps: those who want to promote as far bioethanol and diesel-on. The others want to introduce a cap of 5.5 percent for the incorporation of plant fuel from agricultural crops. The remaining 4.5 percent share of renewable energy would be provided by electric vehicles or biofuels that do not consist of agricultural crops, but straw, wood waste or algae.

In addition to a cap on blending quotas are known as ILUC factors for debate (Indirect Landuse Change, see box). becoming more fields in Germany with rape for biodiesel plants, rain forests have to be cleared as Indonesia and Brazil to grow food. “The canola industry is directly or indirectly connected with the global vegetable oil markets,” says David Laborde of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, USA, and so with the markets for soy and palm oil.”Soybean oil leads to the destruction of forests in Latin America,” says the author of relevant studies on the topic, palm oil leads to changes in land use in Indonesia, the peat stored huge quantities of carbon dioxide. “No matter which vegetable oil we burn,” said Laborde, “we thus influencing significant CO 2 storage. ”

These indirect effects are to be included in the balance sheets of biofuels require about the environment and the Development Committee in the European Parliament. The industrial and agricultural committee reject the factors, as well as the federal government: ILUC factors are not accurately calculate and based on many assumptions.Other measures, such as a cap on blending quotas, are more effective. Also scientifically ILUC is highly controversial, not “watch still measure” could be land use change, says about Matthias Finkbeiner, an expert on LCA at the TU Berlin.

And entrepreneurs Jacob sees ILUC critical. “Once the ILUC factor is, I can not offer a more competitive product,” says Jacob. For his work in Pritzwalk he meant the corner. Although the GBF used as raw material in addition to rape small amounts of used cooking oil. But no they can not change it, the production, the company would have to invest heavily in new equipment. Together with the University of Bielefeld has launched a trial of the algae fuel business. But: “We are not ready for this technology,” says Jacob, “underestimate the difficulty of transferring pilot plant to industrial scale.”

The second and third generation fuels (see box) are currently all the rage in parliament. Caution, but warns about the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy. First, these fuels are “currently not competitive without subsidies,” says Manfred Fischedick, Vice President of the Institute, these technologies could also prove to be ecologically problematic. For Jacob is clear anyway: “As long as the policy every five years changes the parameters, I invest nothing more.”

Currently, there are 17 biofuel manufacturers in Germany, 15 of which produce biodiesel, in 2008 there were still 32 Once they were encouraged to allow farmers a second income in addition to the threat of steady price declines foods. “The have all forgotten now,” complains Marco Gemballa. He sits, 138 kilometers northeast of injection Walk, on his towering harvester, attracting large circles on a field. The loo Pasenow in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern growing canola in a field to the horizon. In spring it glowed yellow, now the blades are gray-brown.Meter by meter the machine eats the stalks and threshing in its interior the black rape seeds out. About 3.5 liters of diesel vehicle needs Gemballas to harvest a ton of rape. Good Gemballa suspension bobs on his seat in front of his computer work. Screens tell him the quality and quantity of the harvest, the state machine or its speed. “If we break away the biodiesel market,” says Gemballa, “then the earnings prospects are poor and we will grow less rape.” So far, the crucifer growing – rape is related to the cabbage and no grain – on 55 acres of agricultural cooperative Zinzow. He enriches the soil with nitrogen, its tap roots penetrate deep into the soil, explains the agriculturalist. “After I rape significantly higher wheat yields and need less nitrogen fertilizer,” says Gemballa. Rape in the crop rotation was therefore important. A third to a half of canola cultivation in Germany will decline when the market for biodiesel breaks down, the Union estimates for production of oil plants (Ufop).

Bondan Andriyanu of the Indonesian NGO Sawit Watch looks at other numbers: Every minute Indonesia losing forest cover in the size of 13 football fields, leads from the activist. Specifically for the EU Parliament decision he has traveled to Europe in order to draw attention to the devastating effects of palm oil cultivation in his country. 12.2 million hectares of the country are now covered with palm oil plantations – forest loss has become the largest greenhouse gas emitters in Indonesia. Repeatedly observed Sawit Watch that farmers from their land and plantations are established it, and the working conditions are bad, child labor is rampant. What he wants from the EU? “Vote for the lowest blending quotas,” said Bondan, “five percent or less.” In addition, the EU should not use fuels from agricultural field crops. Their carbon balance to turn negative turn when you consider about the destruction of forests. Twelve percent of palm oil – Indonesia is the largest producer in the world – go into the production of biofuel. “If the EU continues to convey fuels from plants, as before, it creates a stable demand and an incentive for the company to plant more orchards.

“Twelve per cent”, snorts Jacob, “if the market for biofuels in Europe is destroyed, nothing will change in Indonesia.” The palm oil will be diverted into the food or chemical industries and more soybean meal imported from Brazil, because the protein-rich rapeseed in Europe lacked. This whole discussion is irrational. Ultimately, Jacob says resignedly, could decide what they wanted to politics, of course, “but they must be reliable.”

Andriyanu to draw attention to the devastating effects of palm oil cultivation in his home

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