DISCUSS HOW THE POLICIES OF THE EU AFFECT THE BENEFITS AND LIMITATIONS OF TWO RENEWABLE RESOURCES

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Introduction

Environmental concerns have seen the increased use of renewable fuels as a measure to combat the problems that arise from the constant use of natural, non-renewable fuels. The global concerns for the security and continuity of energy supply.can be seen in the European union as well the global thrust on Bio-fuels as an alternative to other sources of energy is also reflected in the directives of the European Union, which insists on the production and usage of biofuels to meet at least 20 percent of the total energy needs of the country (Ryan, et al., 2006).  Some of the commonly seen biofuels are. ethanol and biodiesel; both of which can be directly converted into liquid fuel to meet the requirements of transportation fuels.

Background

Biomass are converted into biofuels. Biofuels are primarily obtained as a metabolic by-product or from living organisms. The ideal definition of biofuel would mean that it would have at least 80 percent renewable forms of energy. The increased usage of renewable fuels as part of regional growth, has seen several new and interesting methods of sourcing these bio-fuels. Algae and microbes are now seen as a means of creating this bio-fuel, which would slowly reduce the dependence on the limited natural sources of energy that is extensively used today. Of particular importance are the environmental concerns including global warming due to the excessive production of greenhouse gases. Green house gases that increase the global warming and depletion of the ozone layer are commonly seen by-products of the transportation fuels like petrol and diesel.

 

History

Some of the major concerns with regard to the environmental impact of the constant use of non-renewable energy sources can be seen in the energy policies of countries across the world (Ryan, et al., 2006). The same is also reflected in the energy policies of the European Union which clearly stipulates that at least 20 percent of the energy needs of any country within the union must be met from biofuels. The growing environmental concerns and the interest in biofuels, is further strengthened with these directives that seek to increase the usage and production of these renewable energy sources (Ryan, et al., 2006) and helps conserve the depleting reserves of petroleum products and other sources of non-renewable fuels.

While the new technologies entering the market offer a major advantage, the use of renewable energy from biofuels as a healthy alternative to help dissipate the increase in the consumption of commercial energy is a positive step in this matter (Ryan, et al., 2006), the non-uniform energy policies in the European Union too need to be addressed for a greater impact of this measure (Bomb, et al., 2007). Some of the commonly seen policy goals include the reduction in emissions caused by the use of non-renewable gas like diesel and petrol (Ryan, et al., 2006); diversifying the sources of fuel being supplied in the country; simulating the de-carbonisation of transport fuels and developing alternative sources of energy (Schnepf, 2006).

Interestingly, the preferred choice of biofuels are those that are liquid rather than those that exist in the gaseous or solid state. Sustainable biomass are a necessity for the production of and continuous use of biofuels (Rutz & Janssen, 2007). As the biomass continues to grow, the fuel too continues to be supplied, thus ensuring that the cycle of production and use are constantly at work. The agricultural leftovers can be recycled to ensure that the production of biofuels goes on unhindered (Bozbas, 2008). Biofuel policy too has a considerable impact on the usage and preference for biofuels. Thus, sustainable policies at all levels including, the European Union, national and regional levels are intrinsic to the success of the market penetration of biofuels (Rutz & Janssen, 2007).

Arguments/critique

The production of renewable energy as a continuous process is the best method of ensuring that the population shows a keen interest in using them. In other words, the incentive for the use of biofuels must not only be the low level of emissions, but also the lower cost and ease of availability when compared to traditional fuels (Bozbas, 2008). Looking at matters from an economic viewpoint, it can be seen that the forces of demand and supply influence the pricing of commodities in a free economy. Thus, if biofuels are easily available, then it follows that the pricing would be competitive as well. Availability, thus becomes the key to ensuring that biofuels gain in popularity and usage increases significantly (Ryan, et al., 2006).

The key drivers of bio-energy production are thus identified and listed below:

·         Larger areas dedicated to agriculture and animal husbandary so as to ensure that there are sufficient bio-waste that can be utilised for the production of biofuels (Bozbas, 2008), (Rutz & Janssen, 2007).

·         Environmentally friendly farming techniques must be used to ensure that the bio-waste is not contaminated with unwanted pollutants in any manner (Rutz & Janssen, 2007).

·         Encourage the technological developments to generate biofuels with higher efficiency and minimal wastage (Schnepf, 2006).

·         Ensure easy availability and competitive pricing for biofuels (Schnepf, 2006).

 

Key Issues and Findings

The commonly used biofuels are ethanol and biodiesel, both biofuels. Some of the socio-economic drivers that have been instrumental in driving the usage and production of biofuels include a significant increase of land utilised for agriculture, the governmental policies that have led to an increase in the cost of energy and carbon dioxide permits (Rutz & Janssen, 2007) as well as environmental concerns among the general population and the significant decrease in the levels of naturally occurring non-renewable energy (Bozbas, 2008). Considering this scenario and the growing popularity of biofuels, the benefits and limitations of self production of renewable energy resources have been identified as follows:

Benefits of biofuels and its self-production:

·         A clean fuel that ensures negligible production of greenhouse gases (Bozbas, 2008), thus significantly lowering contribution to global warming.

·         Renewable in nature, the biofuels would also ensure that effective and productive disposal of bio-waste (Bozbas, 2008).

·         As biofuels are produced indigenously, the need for earmarking huge amounts of Forex reserves for importing the traditional fuels (Bozbas, 2008) or for moving them from the areas where they are processed and stored would be significantly reduced. This would ensure that the funds set side for this purpose can be utilised for other purposes of equal importance.

Limitations of biofuels and its self-production:

            While biofuels have been identified as the best alternative to the traditional fuels in use today, there are a few limitations as well. These include:

·         The lack of infrastructure for the processing of bio-waste into biofuels (Bomb, et al., 2007).

·         The need for proper disposal of the byproducts of biofuels. The users of biofuels must be made aware of the proper manner in which these by-products can and should be disposed (Ryan, et al., 2006).

·         The availability of biofuels as well as equipments wherein they can be used is limited. Thus, the governments need to ensure that vehicles are adapted to ply using biofuels instead of traditional fuels that are non-renewable (Bomb, et al., 2007).

·         The standardisation of biofuels is also necessary (Rutz & Janssen, 2007)to ensure that vehicles can access the fuels at various locations. Standarisation would also lead to a significant decrease in trade barriers, while ensuring compatibility and safety for the users of biofuels (Bozbas, 2008).

Conclusion

The present rates of vehicle emission standards have decreased significantly over the last decade (Demirbas, 2009). This is in no small measure due to the various governmental policies promoting the use of biofuels (Bomb, et al., 2007), in line with international measures to reduce the environmental impact of greenhouse gases (Ryan, et al., 2006). However, there still remains a significant divide between the availability of biofuels and vehicles that are compatible with them when compared to the number of vehicles that ply on the roads every day. Bearing these factors in mind, it is essential that the governments as well as the European Union continue to pursue measures that would ensure the increasing usage of biofuels in proportion to the use of traditional fuels.

 

 

Bibliography

Bomb, C., McCormick, K., Deurwaarder, E. & Kaberger, T., 2007. Biofuels for transport in Europe: Lessons from Germany and the UK. Energy Policy, 35(4), pp. 2256-2267.

Bozbas, K., 2008. Biodiesel as an alternative motor fuel: Production and policies in the European Union. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 12(2), pp. 542-552.

Demirbas, A., 2009. Political, economic and environmental impacts of biofuels: A review. Applied Energy, 86(1), pp. S108-S117.

Rutz, D. & Janssen, R., 2007. The BioFuel Technology Handbook. [Online]
Available at: http://www.co2star.eu/publications/BioFuel_Technology_Handbook_1vs_WIP.pdf
[Accessed 11 July 2016].

Ryan, L., Convery, F. & Ferreira, S., 2006. Stimulating the use of biofuels in the European Union: Implications for climate change policy. Energy Policy, 34(17), pp. 3184-3194.

Schnepf, R., 2006. European Union Biofuels Policy and Agriculture: An Overview. [Online]
Available at: http://www.nationalaglawcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/assets/crs/RS22404.pdf
[Accessed 11 July 2016].

 

 

 

 

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