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Biofuels only major way to decarbonizes road fuel

Biofuels represent the only way to significantly reduce carbon emissions in road transport fuel and are likely to account for at least 12 percent of supply by 2030, an official with oil giant BP said on Wednesday.

“There is no other alternative that I can really subscribe to in terms of decarbonizing road transport,” Olivier Mace, head of strategy, regulatory affairs and communications at BP unit BP Biofuels, told a conference organized by Agra Europe.

Mace said that electricity may play a role “one day” and biogas may also be in the mix, but “to get into 10 percent, 20 percent of (global) consumption we believe there is only one game in town today and that is biofuels.”

BP has forecast that about 12 percent of road transport fuel will come from biofuels by 2030, but Mace said that was a “conservative view.”

“Personally I think it could be even higher than that,” he said, noting the forecast did not include much production in Asia. He said China and India are likely to be among the countries with the strongest demand growth for road transport fuel as a whole over the next 20 years.

Mace acknowledged, however, that biofuels had become “embattled in a big controversy, especially here in Europe.”



Critics have suggested that biofuels, which are currently produced mainly from crops such as grains, sugar and vegetable oils, can increase carbon emissions, particularly if rainforests are chopped down to facilitate production.

Mace said the debate needed to be centered on distinguishing between good and bad biofuels, not whether or not there should be biofuels at all.

“I am a firm believer of biofuels done well and a stern condemner of biofuels done badly,” he said.

A BP joint venture, Vivergo, is currently building a bioethanol plant in Hull in eastern England which Mace said would be the biggest in Britain.

Vivergo is a joint venture of BP, British Sugar and DuPont.

Mace told Reuters the plant, which will use more than 1 million metric tons of wheat to produce bioethanol and a high protein animal feed, would be on line later this year.

He said the plant is expected to produce carbon savings in excess of 60 percent compared to fossil fuel alternatives.

“Biofuels done well is a very important part of the energy mix going forward. It is going to be an evolving story with an increasing role of advanced technology,” he said.