Gradually switching to biofuels could provide new business opportunities throughout the fuel supply chain. For example, fuel bunker companies would be the most likely candidates to blend biofuels with marine fuels. All major European ports or bunker stations have biofuel production facilities nearby.
According to the study's authors, the main barriers to making these changes and accelerating the introduction of marine biofuels lie in market incentives, which are not coordinated among EU member countries. The EU's Renewable Energy Directive, for example, sets required targets for the use of renewable fuels in transportation, which includes shipping. However, EU members can implement the directive somewhat differently from one another in their national legislation. This can lead to variations in preferred offsets for renewable fuels in road transport.
Biofuels are not addressed in current shipping legislation, the study said. Also, the European-level legislation that complements global rules can be confusing. In addition to the Renewable Energy Directive, there are restrictions on the sulphur content of marine fuels. These restrictions are specified in the international MARPOL Convention.
If sulphur restrictions for marine fuels are tightened, biofuels triumph as they contain no sulphur. Their biodegradability also reduces the risk of marine pollution in case of spills. These advantages are not yet well reflected in current legislation. Introducing biofuels as a sustainable alternative fuel can change the current fuel supply chain completely. We have already seen this for road transport; we see this in current developments in aviation, and are certain this can also create new opportunities in the shipping sector.
Given that shipping and transportation makes up such a huge piece of the global economy, it would seem that implementing legislation and incentives to promote biofuels could have a huge impact. What's the downside for shippers transitioning over to the new fuel source? Do tankers and carriers have to be retrofit to accomodate biofuel or is just about hammering out the supply chain, procurement practices, and cost structure for a new fuel source?
I'm going to admit publicly that I don't get it. There are lots of things I don't understand in science, but I don't have a clue as to how to start understanding this. If we are rushing to use biofuels, then CO2 release and Global Warming must not be an issue (unless, maybe it is a Carbon Cycling thing). If Sulfur is a problem, DuPont's IsoTherming Technology for Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel Production reduces sulfur to levels normally found in the environment. With new technologies in natural gas and oil shale, our current projected supply of 200-years worth of ground petroleum is increasing daily.
I expect we will no longer be using hand-held computing devices in 10 years due to advances in ubiquitous cloud computing... Why should we be scrambling to insure that we can still use internal combustion technology beyond the year 2212? Somebody please explain.
Interesting points, William. And good questions. But I stumbled on your comment that cloud computing will end the use of handheld devices. I would think cloud computing would increase the use of handheld devices, since you don't need large devices when your computing power and memory are in the cloud.
Hi @Rob: My comment about was about "ubiquitous" cloud computing. There are two primary things that folks physically carry along with them: (1) Their Data, (2) A Processor. With the "Cloud", number (1) is no longer necessary --- tapes, floppies, cds, dvds, thumb drives... no longer needed. The "ubiquitous computing" part is when everything has a processor embedded in it: The refrigerator, microwave, toaster, kitchen table, office desk, automobile dash, airline seat, clothing...
We started with One Mainframe to Many People, then One PC to One Person, then A Few Devices to One Person, then Many Devices to One Person, then we finally arrive at Many Devices to Many People. When we reach "ubiquitous cloud computing", you will not need to own and carry around an access device... you will be able to use any public access device to access your own data in the cloud. $$ will be collected by what you do with your data, not in exchange for the device used to access and manipulate it. In much the same way I do not need to travel with my own personal electricity generator. I just plug into any public outlet near my current location.
My question to the topic at hand is that I don't know "WHY" we need to spend time, money, and energy on legislation and incentives to change the supply chain, procurement practices, and cost structure from petroleum to biofuels if all we are doing scientifically, is using new carbon-compounds instead of old carbon-compounds -- a supply of which is growing rather than depleting...
Beth, the study found that the degree of adjustments that need to be made to the marine fuel supply chain would depend on the types of ship, engine, and biofuel, and the blend percentage. No retrofitting required: perhaps you are thinking about DIY retrofitting of car engines so they can run on ex-MacDonalds frying oil. That's a world away from the commercial biofuels industry, which is much father along in Europe than in the US. These commercial biofuels are considered drop-in replacements that would be gradually blended in the same locations--fuel bunker companies--that currently blend non-biobased fuels.
William, as mentioned in several other comment threads in stories about bio-based materials, the problems of finding alternatives to dino-based fuels and materials are large enough that a multi-pronged strategy makes the most sense. It would be dandy if we could get rid of internal combustion altogether, but that's probably not going to happen for awhile. So long before 2212 (was that a typo for 2022 = 2012 + 10 years?) we're going to need all kinds of alternatives in the short term while we're working out long-term strategies that can hopefully eliminate environment-harming practices.
And while I'd rather not get into an argument here about whether we should be pursuing yet more dino-fuel extraction, even if we do so the Chinese may own it all in a few years anyway, especially if they decide to call in our loans. PetroChina just announced that it's become the world's biggest publicly traded oil producer, ahead of Exxon, giving them enormous clout:
Hi @Ann... Nope. 2212 was correct - 200 years from now: The date when we predict we will run out of dino-fuels. I'm an "innovation" guy so I'm for new inventions and development daily. But what I'm not for is demanding the hard-earned talents of scientists and engineers be directed by political gamesmanship. If there is a true, defined reason why we should scramble to shift to biofuels, I'll be in line producing college graduates for the cause.
The Petroleum industry was born in Titusville, PA in the 1850s. It was not a project that was funded or envisioned by the World Governments, but by inventor Samuel Kier. He was the first human to recognize the value of distilling petroleum for fuel. Now, some 160 years later, the "petroleum industry" is somehow the property of World Governments that struggle to control its supply. If we see ourselves still based on hydrocarbon fuels 200 years from now, then it would be prudent to experiment. But would it be prudent to stop using petroleum? Maybe we should have delayed the invention of the Babbage Difference engine in 1822 until we solved the Y2K problem... after all, Y2K was only 178-years in the future -- right around the corner. =]
Politics is concerned with Power. Science is concerned with Truth. As a scientist, when Governments seek to influence scientific decisions through the use of Power, it is our responsibility to debate the issue and demand the decision be based on Truth rather than Political Whim.
My question still remains. Why switch transportation to Biofuels?
You have a very interesting view on the future of devices. But I think it's like mass transit -- it makes sense, but people love their cars and they love the freedom to go where they want when they want. People love their devices, and besides, if you have your own device, you can use it while driving. I can't tell you how often I'm behind a car at a red light. When the light turns green, the car just sits there until I honk. We all know why. When I honk, the driver looks up from his or her device and them proceeds through the light.
Wow. I didn't realize China's oil company has reached that size. The important thing, as you say, is to pursue a variety of alternative sources for energy. Add to that, greater efficiency and it looks like we're going in the right direction.
I have to agree with Rob. While I see where William is going with the idea of ubiquitous cloud computing, I still think there will be some preferred device that people will want of their own and not be fully dependent on some public access station to get to their data. Maybe it's just a small access card with a processor or some variation of a key. But there will be different models, with different bells and whistles, and people will want to be hands on with them.
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