Renewable energy – biofuels for cars

  • Car numbers – China and India numbers are climbing
  • Biofuels
  • Energy from crops, fertilised with wastes.

By Bill Butterworth

6 December 2014 

 Diesel 01 fuel pump volvo

Just think for a minute about the figures of the number of cars per head of population various countries:

 Country                            Cars per 1000 Vehicles per 1000 population

1999                     2009

Africa                              21                            25

EU                                 528                         583

USA                              790                         828

China                                                             58

India                                                              13


Bear in mind that these figures are at least 2 or 3 years old.  Now think about how many people there are in China and India.   There are currently about 7 billion people on this earth and growing. There are over a billion motor vehicles and nearly a billion other internal combustion engines. They are mainly in the developed countries of the West where there are more internal combustion engines than people.

If we had the alternative engine right now and we all agreed that this was the right one to go for, it would take several generations to build the factories and change these engines to the new type. It would be too late. In the meantime, all these engines drive our industry, transport, services and most of the things we rely on for life. They work on liquid fuels. So, like it or not, we need biofuels. And we need the expansion of production very urgently or something is going to stop.

If we grow oil seed crops such as oil palm, or sugar cane (as in Brazil), or Jatropha (as in Africa and Eastern countries) or oil seed rape (as in the UK and EU), and we grow them using mineral fertilisers, then that is not sustainable. (That is because mineral fertilisers are made using energy.) However, if we grow these crops using wastes through composting, then this is not only sustainable, it actually reverses global warming. (See “Reversing Global Warming for Profit” from MX Publishing for the figures.)

Research by Land Network (see shows that 1 hectare of land growing oil seed rape for either biodiesel or PPO (Pure Plant Oil to drive diesel engines), that will produce enough energy to farm that 1 hectare and 9 more (which could be of wheat of whatever crop). In that research, 1 ha of oil seed rape produced 90 tonnes of wheat. And it was done using wastes as fertilisers. Nobody was caused to starve and there were no rain forest cut down.

Eventually, the oil companies will crack biofuels from algae but they still have much to do to deliver commercial quantities. Survival success can only be delivered by farmers and British farmers are already doing it! We need the political will to scale it up. Badger your MP.