This is an archive for all articles produced by members of the Slí na Bandé community pertaining to sustainable energy.  It is important that more people become aware of the implications of certain energy production industries.  Increased awareness will contribute to the development of long-term, sustainable energy production and consumption practices.  Visitors are encouraged to comment on Slí na Bandé’s articles.

Biofuels, or fuels derived from renewable energies, have been increasingly present in a global scale for the last nine years. Their invention is however not recent. The use of biofuel as an automobile fuel dates as far back as 1898, when Rudolph Diesel premiered the diesel engine at the world’s exhibition in Paris to run on peanut oil. Henry Ford’s Model T, able to run on ethanol, was the second attempt to create vehicles able to run on biofuels, 20 years later. Biofuels were instantly accepted as the key to the future. By the 1920’s Ford had established a partnership with Standard Oil, and 25% of oil sales were non-petroleum related. Nonetheless, the petroleum industry felt threatened by these new kinds of transport energies, and decided to undercut the prices and develop petro-diesel. By the early 1940’s, the use of any kind of biofuels became non existent. They didn’t appear again on the market before the 1980’s, when Argentina and Brazil decided to use alternative energies for their transports. In the late 1990’s we assisted to a slight re-emergence of biofuels in Europe, but the actual authorization of these alternative energies on the market only occurred at the beginning of the 2000’s.

Since 2003 the European Union regulated the use of biofuels or other renewable fuels in order to replace, at least partially, fossil energies for transport purposes in the Member States.

The Directive 2003/30/EC of 8 May 2003 ‘on the promotion of the use of biofuels or other renewable fuels for transports’ tend to contribute the accomplishment of the EU objectives concerning climate change commitments.

The Directive 2009/28/EC of 23 April 2009 ‘on the promotion of the use of energy for renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC’ “establishes a common framework for the promotion of energy from renewable sources. It sets mandatory national targets for the overall share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy and for the share of energy from renewable sources in transport. It lays down rules relating to statistical transfers between Member States, joint projects between Member States and with third countries, guarantees of origin, administrative procedures, information and training, and access to the electricity grid for energy from renewable sources. It establishes sustainability criteria for biofuels and bioliquids”.

The purpose of this archive is first of all, to explain briefly what biofuels are and how they are produced and consumed. We will see how the EU regulates their use on the common market, and how the new Regulation of 2009 is going to influence the production and consumption of biofuels in a global scale, and in the member states. We will dedicate a special attention to the EU’s sustainability criteria, in order to determine if the use of biofuels can be ethical. The controversies related to the biofuels, such as the numerous violations of Human Rights and the massive risks for the environment and food, will be explained in order to understand why the consumption of most of the biofuels (bioethanol, biodiesel, etc.) can’t be ethical.

Manon Godot, Janury 2010


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