Ideal Alternative Fuel Slips through Our Fingers

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 27, 2004 | Go to article overview
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Ideal Alternative Fuel Slips through Our Fingers


Byline: Western Mail Reporter

Suppose there was a vehicle fuel which could be produced in Britain in sufficient quantity to meet all our road transport requirements, which neednever be in short supply, which would go far to meeting our obligations for using renewable energy and reducing levels of greenhouse gases.

Suppose, on top of all this, that production of the fuel would do much to revitalise the rural economy.

You might expect that environmentalists, Government Ministers and farmers would be dancing in the streets.

Well, there is such a fuel: biodiesel. It is derived from oil seed rape, a crop which grows readily in Britain and could grow on a fair proportion of Welsh agricultural land. It could do much for our struggling farm sector and for diversity in our countryside.

Biodiesel can be used in standard diesel engines directly or blended with ordinary diesel. One hectare of rape will produce enough for about 10,000 miles in an average car. Extensive analyses by government and independent bodies show that on any pollution criterion it is very much better than fossil diesel, or any other fossil fuel, including liquefied gas.

One especially interesting finding is that its total life cycle emissions are far less than those of fossil fuels. Life cycle emissions include everything from the initial stages (extraction in the case of fossil fuel, producing seed and fertiliser in the case of the plants), through all the growing and conversion stages, to final production and use of the fuel. Some environmentalists had been worried that pollution from producing fertiliser, from the tractor work involved in ploughing, fertilising and harvesting, and from processing the seeds to produce the fuel would offset the inherent benefits of the fuel itself, but this is not the case.

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Ideal Alternative Fuel Slips through Our Fingers
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