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Independent Professional: Experienced educator and management consultant for engineering educational institutions, researcher, trainer, technical consultant on sustainable technologies, related to cement manufacturing and characterisation, using industrial and agricultural wastes in cement and concrete, durability of concrete and fuel cell power.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Biofuel standards are needed

ScienceDaily , October 9, 2008, reports that the policies needed to ensure that cellulosic biofuel production will not cause environmental harm. The paper, published in the October 3rd issue of the journal Science, urges decision makers to adopt standards and incentives that will help ensure that future production efforts are sustainable, both energetically and environmentally.

Cellulose-based biofuels hold promise, but we need to proceed cautiously and with an eye toward minimizing long-term ecological impacts. Without a sound plan, we could wind up doing more environmental harm than good. Grain-based ethanol has already served as a lesson in the perils of embracing energy solutions before their environmental effects are understood.

If cellulosic ethanol is to emerge as a feasible source of renewable energy, a vast amount of land will need to be used for its production. This land conversion, estimated to be as large as the amount of land in row-crops today, will change the face of the global landscape. Production standards and incentive programs could help minimize negative impacts and, in many cases, help farmers choose crops that provide valuable ecosystem services. There is the real potential for science to inform sustainable cellulosic crop strategies. It is about picking the right plant or assemblage of plants, for a given landscape and managing crops in a minimally invasive way.