Sunday, April 20, 2008

Biofuels won't solve world energy problem: Shell

The article I chose to blog about this week was written by Alex Lawler regarding a remark about biofuels from the chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, Jeroen van der Veer. Veer comments that "[b]iofuels will not solve the world's energy problem." His remark follows severe protesting in Brazil and Europe about food shortages and rising costs. Lawler mentions the oil minister of Qatar, Abdullah al-Attiyah, and the fact that he blames biofuels for the shortage of food that our world is currently facing. Lawler discusses the problems with first generation biofuels and the competition for food that is created. He also mentions second generation biofuels that would eliminate the competition for food dilemma.

I found it interesting that the only second generation biofuel feedstocks mentioned were straw and waste lumber. From my understanding, straw and waste lumber require a lot of effort to extract the cellulosic material that is converted to ethanol. Also, they have a lower content of this material than other feedstocks, such as algae.

Because my research topic for the semester project is regarding algae as a biofuel feedstock, I have been thinking about it a lot lately! I was really surprised that algae was not mentioned as a second generation biofuel feedstock. I also feel that if Lawler was aware of algae's potential for biodiesel and ethanol production, he may have had more of an objection to Veer's and Attiyah's negative comments on biofuels.

No comments: