Posted on: December 11, 2014
The UK is set to lead the development of advanced biofuels, as government launches a competition for technology to aid the process.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is giving firms across the UK a chance to bid for £25 million to build three biofuel development plants.
Commercial vehicle manufacturers have been put under pressure from government to introduce models that reliably run on biofuel, which can be made either wholly or partly from organic matter. However, an intermittent supply and a lack of a universally agreed quality standard has often deterred fleet managers from converting.
Funding will be made available over the next three years with the deadline for initial applications falling on 13 February 2015. Full proposals should be submitted by June 2015.
Transport Minister Baroness Kramer says the competition will be run in two stages and expects the plants to be operational by December 2018 and producing at least one million litres of fuel a year.
“Advanced biofuels will play an increasingly important role in lowering carbon emissions from transport and these fuel plants will help ensure the UK is leading the way in building our capacity,” she said.
“This is a major step forward for the UK. According to the feasibility study, gains from the domestic supply of converting low value waste to high value transport fuel could be worth up to £130 million gross value added to the UK by 2030, and potentially up to £500 million per year including exports.” Successful competition applicants will need to prove that the chosen technology produces 60% less greenhouse emissions than petrol or diesel.
Earlier in the year, a report from the US government found that many so-called ‘first-generation’ biofuels, developed to power heavy trucks and agricultural machinery, actually produced 7% more CO2 than conventional diesel – and had the unintended consequence of raising food prices as a large amount of land was needed to grow crops for fuel.
Kramer adds that unlike first generation biofuels, the advanced versions could deliver greater CO2 savings without causing the same concerns over food security and land use as the current generation.