Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Biofuel Use Grows in Europe

Working to meet ambitious goals set by the European Union, the countries of Europe are unveiling plans to boost biofuel production. France will triple biofuel output within three years, bringing an additional 800,000 tonnes of biodiesel and ethanol production on stream by end-2007. However France is two years behind an EU target for 2005 to have biofuels making up two percent of fuels. The country hopes to make the 2010 target of 5.75 percent.

In Britain, a new biodiesel plant capable of turning recycled cooking oil and animal fats into fuel is due onstream in Scotland this spring, boosting output of the green fuel by up to 35,000 ton a year. But Britain, too, is well behind the EU set targets.

In fact, only Germany appears to be on target to meet its EU goals.

The EU biofuels program has been spurred by high crude oil prices, worries about world oil producers' ability to keep up with demand, and tough targets to cut greenhouse emissions. Biofuel use, notably biodiesel derived from vegetable oils, and ethanol, which can be produced from grains, sugar or biomass, has gotten major support from European governments.

Although the EU countries are behind their targets, they are in marked contrast with the United States where government inaction has left the development of such fuels as biodiels to enterprising individuals who cruise to McDonalds for a fillup and a few localities which have supported it.

If peak oil is on the horizen, Europe, where demand for oil has remained level in recent years, will be in a better position to deal with it than the U.S. where demand for oil is growing rapidly.


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