The Canadian city of Vancouver appears to beginning a process of phasing out the use of natural gas. While the city insists new energy efficiency rules designed to reduce emissions don’t outright ban natural gas, developers say the standards are so restrictive that it will be impossible to include it in any form. This applies to furnaces, fireplaces, hot-water heaters and cooktops that use natural gas. All developments requiring a rezoning will become the first wave of buildings that have to comply with new energy standards. Developers and those in the natural gas industry say the new energy-efficiency standards the city has set are so high that it will be prohibitively expensive for builders to include natural gas for anything, even cooktops. The most likely alternative would be electricity such as electric stoves and baseboard heaters. The city’s new requirements will apply to all multi-family projects of four storeys or more as of March 2018. It is uncertain when they would extend to single-family homes, duplexes, and rowhouses. There is an exemption for automobiles that use natural gas as well as the restaurant industry.

The US city of Portland, Oregon has approved a plan to convert methane at its wastewater treatment plant into renewable natural gas for use in city vehicles. The Bureau of Environmental Services estimates this plant can produce enough natural gas to fuel 154 garbage trucks. In addition, the city hopes to sell its renewable natural gas to outside customers to help pay for the project and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. While the construction and CNG conversions are expected to cost about $12 million, the city expects to generate some $3 million in revenue per year from these sales.

French multinational retailer Carrefour plans to have nine biomethane refueling stations operating throughout France by the end of this year to service its fleet of vehicles. The company has 200 lorries that supply 250 stores in Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille and Paris. Carrefour will also allow use of these stations by other firms in the transport sector who have vehicles running on biomethane.

Abu Dhabi has approved plans to turn waste into biodiesel under a new recycling scheme. The Centre of Waste Management will provide permits to companies allowing them to produce biodiesel for use in buses and lorries. Leftover cooking oil, fat and grease from kitchens in homes and restaurants across the United Arab Emerites would be collected and recycled as part of the scheme. A similar system is already in operation in Dubai, where waste management company Blue currently recycles 227,000 litres of waste oil a day, collected from 7,000 kitchens.

Research and Markets reports there are over 150,000 natural gas vehicles (NGV) on US roads today and over five million worldwide. NGVs demonstrate better performance than bi-fuel vehicles because their engines are optimized to run on natural gas. In addition, the vehicle does not have to carry two types of fuel, thereby increasing cargo capacity and reducing weight.

MarketResearchReports says the global automotive biofuels market is likely to expand at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 8.37% from 2017 to 2021. The market growth will be driven by the trend of producing biofuel in an attempt to produce emission free fuels. New regulations which are limiting petroleum vehicle emissions are also stimulating the adoption of automotive biofuels, as governments around the world strive to minimize emissions. Currently North America is the leading market for automotive biofuels. Emerging trends are identified as research on algae fuel (a low cost, high energy renewable feedstock for third generation biofuel) as well as the commercialization of second generation ethanol in the US.

Power Technology tells us about The World’s Strangest Sources of Biofuel.

The European Parliament recently voted 97% in favour of having the European Union phase out the use of vegetable oils in biodiesel that are allegedly produced in an unsustainable way leading to deforestation. The phase out would be complete by 2020. Europe wants a guarantee that only sustainably produced vegetable oils will enter the European market after that date. The resolution includes palm oil. If approved by the European Commission, the resolution is likely to affect the exports of palm oil to European and other developed countries. Malaysia and Indonesia, major producers of palm oil, announced they will send a joint mission to Europe next month to counter the EU resolution. Indonesia is the world’s largest palm oil producer with output of more than 30 million tons of a year, more than 80% of which is exported.

“If this resolution were to be enforced, it will have a devastating effect on our national interest, particularly the livelihood of 600,000 oil palm smallholders in Malaysia and 2.4 million in Indonesia,” said Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Euractive looks at the costs and benefits of producing palm oil vis-a-vis other crops. See also Triple PunditEU Says No to Palm Oil for Biofuel: Corn and Soy Could Be Next


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