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Published on July 25th, 2012 | by Adam Johnston


BP Aiming for Two New Biofuels by 2014

July 25th, 2012 by  


British Petroleum, otherwise known as BP, could be helping to solve some of the sustainable energy transportation puzzle. The British oil and gas giant is trying out two new advanced biofuels in hopes that they will hit the market by 2014, according to a recent Bloomberg article.

BP has a working demonstration biobutanol plant in Hull, England.

BP is also planting grasses to support a proposed 36-million-gallon-a-year cellulosic ethanol plant in Florida, the article said.

For those who are looking for some background, Biobutanol is created by fermenting biomass. Biobutanol can mix with higher concentrated gasoline, while current bioethanol can be retrofitted to produce biobutanol, the article said.

Cellulosic ethanol, meanwhile, comes from various plants, grasses, or inedible plant parts. The article points to cellulosic ethanol being advantageous over sugarcane-based fuels because grass material needed for the fuel can be grown anywhere in the world, compared to sugarcane, which is limited to countries in the equator area.

Demand for biofuels will increase in the future. BP estimates that, by 2030, 9% of the world’s transportation fuel sources will come from biofuel, up from 3% now.

The Bloomberg article cites climate change, potential for increased market revenue for depressed farming communities, and energy security concerns as the driving catalyst for biofuels’ upward future trend. Philip New, CEO of BP’s biofuels unit, also states:

“If you believe that demand for transport fuels is going to grow significantly, if you believe that for the foreseeable future we’re going to carry on using internal combustion engines and liquid fuels, then biofuels are going to be the only complement to crude oil that’s out there.”

In the near future, BP is looking at Louisiana, Texas, and Florida, in which grass can be grown in order to support biofuel plants, New said. He also said BP, by 2024, is aiming to have barrel costs between $60 and $80, compared to today’s barrel value within the $140 to $150 range.

Sources: Bloomberg/ British Petroleum
Photo Credit: British Petroleum

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About the Author

is expected to complete the Professional Development Certificate in Renewable Energy from the University of Toronto by December 2017. Adam recently completed his Social Media Certificate from Algonquin College Continuing & Online Learning. Adam also graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a three-year B.A. combined major in Economics and Rhetoric, Writing & Communications in 2011. Adam owns a part-time tax preparation business. He also recently started up Salay Consulting and Social Media services, a part-time business which provides cleantech writing, analysis, and social media services. His eventual goal is to be a cleantech policy analyst. You can follow him on Twitter @adamjohnstonwpg or check out his business www.salayconsultiing.com.

  • uri

    i dont know why you are so pro biofuels

    you spend more energy making the crop than you get by burning it
    not to mention the sacrifice of good agriculture land that used to grow food.

    we should stop completly with biofuels and engage in electric means of transportation and not trying to revive a bound to die oil industry

    • Bob_Wallace

      Got any solutions for flying airplanes with electricity?

      I’m not convinced that biofuels are a major long term solution, but consider what might happen if we could generate biofuel from non-ag land at an affordable price.  It would mean that we could substitute it for oil and leave carbon underground.

      If we had longer range, affordable EV batteries right now it would still take up to two decades to get ICEVs off the road.  Some biofuel could at least make them carbon neutral.

      We can afford to use more energy to ‘make a crop’ than we get out as long as the output fuel is more valuable than the inputs.    

  • Pingback: The Reluctant Hero of Biofuels…. « Adam M. Johnston, B.A.()

  • I think it is important to realize something important. As much as I am not the biggest fan of oil and gas companies, they do know how the energy game works. If they want to pump more money into biofuels to lower carbon emissions, while increasing cleaner electrons to emerging markets, while diversifying rural economies, lets do it in the short term. 

  • Luke

    I’m very skeptical/cynical about any oil, petroleum & gas coporation getting in on biofuels. At the end of the day, even if they say its just their way of helping the planet, we all know it’s about the money.

    Can’t wait for most homes to be totally energy self-sufficient. Solar panels on roofs charging their cars in their garages. No need for an electricity company or oil company anymore.

    • Ross

      I’d share your skepticism. This will probably go down the cancellation/bioengineered bug for a specialised application route.

      But if they can get it below the cost of fossil fuels and it genuinely doesn’t have an CO2, food supply, water or otherwise environmental footprint then good luck to them. 

      Battery EVs powered by “conventional” renewables are much better than trying to preserve the archaic model of having to pour a liquid into a tank.

      • But in the short term, biofuels are our best hope. 

        • Bob_Wallace

          Biofuels are hopefully only a transitional energy source.  It will take a couple of decades to get ICEVs off the road once we get affordable EVs with adequate range.  Biofuels, if we can make them, would let us go carbon neutral as we use up the stock of ICEs.

          Ever seeing $1/gallon biofuel at the pump is something I can’t foresee.  And that’s the price competition provided by EVs.

    • Bob_Wallace

      My number one desire is to get us off fossil fuels before we really ruin the climate.  If the Koch brothers and big oil are the ones to make it happen, I can live with that.

      Whatever replaces coal, oil and natural gas will, in turn, become massively large corporations.  The people who head them will, most likely, be more about corporate profit than common good.  The problem of corporations is something separate from moving to renewable energy, IMO.

      Furthermore, I don’t think we’ll get rid of electricity companies.  At least with the technology we have.  Running a backup system is more than most people will be willing to deal with.  

      The only practical “self-sufficient” generation tech is solar panels.  It would take a very large amount of storage to be 100% solar in most parts of the world.  And a significant portion of the population does not have the rooftop for solar.

      A unified grid with an assortment of generation spread over large areas and operated by trained people makes the most sense to me.  And, at least for the foreseeable future, we’re going to need some liquid fuel.  

    • totally — me, too. these companies should be banished from the Earth! 😀
      ” Can’t wait for most homes to be totally energy self-sufficient. Solar panels on roofs charging their cars in their garages. ”
      – ditto.

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