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Mark Harvey - Europe on the road to nowhere

Mark Harvey - Europe on the road to nowhere



Presentation given at a Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Biofuel seminar at the Royal Society on 22nd July 2010

Presentation given at a Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Biofuel seminar at the Royal Society on 22nd July 2010



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  • Based on a 3 year research project comparing the innovation trajectories in the three major biofuel producing regions, the USA, Brazil, and Europe. I could have added a question mark to the provocative title – but in current circumstances of government spending, I decided to remove it.
  • The signals from climate change are too diffuse, too long term, and fall unevenly on those economies most capable of generating renewable transport energy. The signals from peak oil, especially increasing volatility of prices, have also been insufficient to overcome the lock-in to the a pervasive, global, and integrated technological platform of the petro-chemical industry. The evidence is that only political and strategic response that combine perspectives of climate change mitigation with those of energy security are currently driving forward innovation with anything approaching sufficient urgency.
  • Much lower ambitions for renewable transport energy than the US. No substantial investment programme in 2G biodiesel, which requires much greater technological change in feedstocks, refinery, fuel and powertrains than 2G bioethanol. Hybrids will continue to depend on liquid transport fuels, HGVs and long distance travel, also likely to continue to depend on fossil fuels. Fleet legacies and ICEs suggest powerful lock in at the vehicle end, and energy distribution end. Tarrifs Lloyds 360 report. Sustainable Energy Security Committee for Climate Change Report, Building a low-carbon economy.

Mark Harvey - Europe on the road to nowhere Mark Harvey - Europe on the road to nowhere Presentation Transcript

  • Europe on the road to nowhere Professor Mark Harvey Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Biofuels 21 st July 2010
  • One message
    • Innovation to deliver a transition to sustainable transport energy (terrestrial and arial) requires strong, long-term strategic political direction.
    • Market signals alone will not drive sufficiently radical, comprehensive or urgent technological change.
    • Only strong state support and steering of innovation from basic science through to commercialisation can deliver.
  • Two innovation roads to greater transport sustainability
    • Brazil: continuous sustained and politically driven innovation of sugarcane based bioethanol, from genomic science through to Flex Fuel Vehicles.
      • Development, Energy Security, and increasing ecological sustainability – multi-decadal state strategy.
    • The USA: Energy Security, Energy Security, Energy Security . Sustained political support for basic science, commercialisation, and the transition from first generation to multiple second generation liquid fuel technologies.
      • Republican and Democrat: continuous strong state-steering of innovation over 15 years.
  • Europe – dithering in diversity
    • Primary goal of climate change mitigation
    • Strong sustainability regulatory framework
    • Trapped in first generation biodiesel and fossil fuel dependency
    • Marginal contributions of alternative technologies (all electric vehicles, hydrogen cells)
    • Lack of strategic political direction
      • Sustainability Regulation but inadequate means to deliver
      • Nations pulling in different directions
      • Absence of a North-South realignment
      • Failure to address fossil energy/materials depletion
      • Strong anti-biofuels lobbying