Using Waste, Swedish City Cuts Its Fossil Fuel Use

Elisabeth Rosenthal, New York Times
When this city vowed a decade ago to wean itself from fossil fuels, it was a lofty aspiration, like zero deaths from traffic accidents or the elimination of childhood obesity.

But Kristianstad has already crossed a crucial threshold: the city and surrounding county, with a population of 80,000, essentially use no oil, natural gas or coal to heat homes and businesses, even during the long frigid winters. It is a complete reversal from 20 years ago, when all of their heat came from fossil fuels.

But this area in southern Sweden, best known as the home of Absolut vodka, has not generally substituted solar panels or wind turbines for the traditional fuels it has forsaken. Instead, as befits a region that is an epicenter of farming and food processing, it generates energy from a motley assortment of ingredients like potato peels, manure, used cooking oil, stale cookies and pig intestines…
(15 December 2010)

Africa mulls biofuels as land grab fears grow

Simon Akam, Reuters
Farmers in this iron-roof village in Sierra Leone say they didn’t know what they were getting into when they leased their land for a biofuel crop they now fear threatens their food harvests.

Addax Bioenergy, part of privately-owned Swiss Addax & Oryx Group, says it went through long consultations with locals when it won a lease for around 50,000 hectares (123,600 acres) for ethanol sugarcane in the poor West African country’s centre.

Despite that, a land dispute has flared up, one that highlights a major obstacle to efforts to tackle climate change by growing fuel in some of the world’s poorest places.

“We were tricked. We feel the way we’re being treated is not in line with our agreement,” said rice farmer Alie Bangura, 68. “They promised things when we gave up our land that didn’t happen.”…
(30 November 2010)

Biomass – a burning issue. Full paper

Nick Grant and Alan Clarke, Sustainable Building Association
A discussion paper commissioned by the AECB in order to explore issues around the use of biomass as a fuel in the UK.

This discussion paper argues that it is fundamentally wrong to define biomass burning as low-carbon, when burning biomass leads to similar carbon dioxide emissions per unit of heat as burning coal.

Visit the AECB forum here to find out the views of AECB members.

(7 September 2010)
EB reader Frank Hemming comments:
This is an article partly written by Nick Grant who lives in Herefordshire called “Biofuels – a burning issue” which highlights problems of using wood as fuel, and gives a different perspective to 2 recent articles on woodstoves (ed. note. I am assuming that Frank is referring to these two posts on EB Straight answers to tough questions about wood heat and Straight answers to tough questions about wood heat – Part 2 -KS). It was quoted by Rob Hopkins recently in a piece carried by the Energy Bulletin. It has just been reprinted in Agroforestry News.

EU plans to tackle unwanted impacts of biofuels

Pete Harrison, Reuters
A year-long European Union investigation into biofuels has concluded that their green credentials might be partly compromised by indirect side-effects, which should be tackled, EU officials said.

The multi-billion-dollar industry fears barriers will be further raised against unsustainable biofuels from food, but the long-awaited European Commission report, due next week, will stop short of proposing any new actions.

Instead, it will recommend six months more of studies.

The report follows a one-year internal battle among experts within the Commission, which has thrown into doubt EU plans to create a $17-billion-a-year market for biofuels from producers such as France, Germany, Brazil, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Investment in European biofuels has slowed to a halt due to doubts over the sector’s green credentials and the challenging investment climate…
(15 December 2010)

Cornell to develop algal biofuels

Staff, bioscholar
Cornell scientists are playing a major role in a consortium of researchers led by Cellana, an algal biofuel research company based in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, to develop biofuels from algae, thanks to a $9 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The consortium — including Cornell, Duke University, San Francisco State University, the University of Hawaii and the University of Southern Mississippi — will work out plans for developing by 2015 an 100-acre commercial-scale facility to produce fuels and animal feeds from microalgae.

Biofuels from algae promise clean energy without many of the drawbacks from land-based biofuels.

“Relative to other fuels, algae produce at least 10 times more biomass per hectare than terrestrial land plants,” said Charles Greene, a Cornell professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, who is a principal investigator on the project…
(14 December 2010)