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Biofuel development key to meet California’s GHG emission reduction goal

Biofuel development key to meet California’s GHG emission reduction goal
Developing California’s biofuel potential could contribute significantly towards its 2050 GHG emissions reduction goal

Biofuel development could be the answer for California to meet its 2050 greenhouse gas emission reduction goal, according to a new report that focuses on the state’s biofuel potential.

The report titled “California Energy Future: The Potential for Biofuels,” done by the California Council on Science and Technology, co-authored by Heather Youngs and Chris Somerville, concluded that developing the potential for next-generation biofuels can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, specifically, replacing the use of gasoline with cellulosic ethanol and biodieasel.

However, replacing gasoline with conventional cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel can only reduce California’s emissions by as much as 53 percent of the 80 percent GHG emissions reduction goal. In order for the state to meet its target, the report suggested developing other alternatives to fossil fuel such as low-carbon lignoecellulosic ethanol or biomass derived from hydrocarbons and a reduction in the overall demand for fuel.

The authors of the report cautioned that even with optimistic efficiency, electrification, the use of other renewable energy sources, the use of extensive amounts of low-carbon biofuels is still needed. That is why when it comes to the issue of using vast amounts of biomass to power the state; the authors explained that “sustainable resource management” and “judicious use of feedstocks” is needed to fully maximize the resource.

Currently, California is targeting 75 percent of its biofuels from its state resources. According to Ms. Youngs, reaching the 75 percent goal can be met by importing biomass from countries like Brazil, of which will then be used to supply the state’s biorefineries, however, this would prove very costly.

The target of reducing GHG emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 comes from the State Executive Order S-03-05 that was signed by then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger back in 2005. With such a timeframe, Ms. Youngs believes that technologies can be deployed to produce low carbon biofuels by then, but this deployment of technologies will still have to depend on factors such as biomass supply and economic considerations.

In another report also done by the California Council on Science and Technology, titled “California’s Energy Future – The View to 2050,” it was found that i to make a mark on the 2050 GHG emissions goal would require different strategies.

The strategies in the report were stringent efficiency measures; avoiding the use of fossil fuel through electrification; doubling the use of electricity produced from renewable energy and other sources as well as storing carbon dioxide emissions underground; and getting enough supply of low-carbon fuel. – EcoSeed Staff



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