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The Debut of Deforestation Diesel

By Joe Romm  

"The Debut of Deforestation Diesel"

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Solving our energy and climate crisis is bound to be a delicate (but not impossible) voyage, and the tension between deforestation and biofuel production is a looming example of why.

ClimateProgress has covered one tricky facet of our forests before by looking at how misplaced afforestation can propel warming. Now word is spreading that plantation forests for biofuel and ethanol crops are rivaling natural forests. In the process, clearing the land emits mass amounts of carbon dioxide and the ecosystem replanted to harvest fuel tends to be worse for the environment.

The fuel produced has acquired the name “deforestation diesel” to reflect the process and has been prevalent in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia in pursuit of palm oil. Talk about unintended consequences.

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2 Responses to The Debut of Deforestation Diesel

  1. Earl Killian says:

    Producing biodiesel from crops is crazy. Producing it from algae might make sense, since the yield can be thirty times (30x) the yield per acre of crops like soybeans. In the late 1990s NREL found species that are 7.5% efficient at turning sunlight into oil, producing about half of their weight in oil. The original proposal was to grow them in places like the Sonora desert, which has high annual sunshine (and doesn’t much compete with crops) and has an agricultural runoff problem that is actually good for the algae. However, the discovery that open ponds wasn’t working meant they had to be grown in sealed “bio reactors”. Several companies are pursuing commercialization of this technology. See http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html for an introduction. On reading the detailed NREL report (which is linked at the URL above), it seems that the algae prefer less than full intensity light. Shade biodiesel anyone? :-)

  2. [...] From Joe Romm: ClimateProgress has covered one tricky facet of our forests before by looking at how misplaced afforestation can propel warming. Now word is spreading that plantation forests for biofuel and ethanol crops are rivaling natural forests. In the process, clearing the land emits mass amounts of carbon dioxide and the ecosystem replanted to harvest fuel tends to be worse for the environment. [Source] [...]