Today sees the announcement of a UK pledge to cut carbon emissions to 50% of 1990 levels by 2025. Prime Minister, David Cameron, over-ruled the economic concerns of the treasury in support of a deal to establish the Coalition government as the furthest-reaching in policy against climate change. The impact of this pledge now relies upon similar aims from other EU countries or an “opt-out” clause may be used to compete economically, to the disadvantage of long-term investors in alternative energy.
An independent Committee on Climate Change recommended UK energy investment in wind, wave and tidal sources. Whilst this may be the best solution for a windswept temperate island, on a global scale, the largest renewable energy contributor is biomass. A recent summary from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports a rapid increase in biofuel demand for road transport, from 2% globally in 2008 to nearly 3% in 2009.
Policy remains key to investment in green energy, for as long as its cost remains relatively high in comparison to fossil fuels. However, the pressure to implement policy and compete within the biofuels market has reached a new tipping point. Last week, TMO Renewables announced a technology partnership the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, aiming to manufacture ethanol from cassava with a 180,000 ton plant in Guangxi province. This latest in a series of deals should allow China to soon overtake the US and become the global leader in bioethanol production.