BP to focus its biofuels growth in Brazil and the US

4 Nov 2010

BP will target its biofuels energies on energy grasses in the US and sugar cane in Brazil, holding off on biofuel investments in the rest of the world for now.

That’s according to James Primrose, head of strategy at BP Biofuels, who was speaking to Reuters today at World Ethanol 2010, which is taking place in Geneva this week.

Primrose said a combination of government incentives and clear alternative energy regulations are currently giving the Americas region an advantage over Europe or Asia. 

Referring to the Mexican oil spill, he said BP had already committed to expanding its alternative fuels portfolio before the incident.

In July of this year, BP Biofuels North America purchased the cellulosic biofuels business of Verenium at a cost of US$98.3m, with the aim of developing low-carbon sustainable biofuels as part of its US biofuels business. 

BP is concentrating its biofuel efforts on the southeastern states of the US, as it says the climatic conditions favour the growth of crops such as sugar cane at a scale to supply commercial biofuel production facilities.

Biofuels and Ireland

But where is Ireland at in terms of biofuels?

Under its Bioenergy Action Plan, Ireland has set a goal of achieving 10pc biofuel penetration for road transport by 2020. And in the Biofuel Obligation Scheme 2010, all road transport fuel suppliers must use biofuel in their fuel mix – the initial penetration rate is set at 4pc per annum.

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources also has a Biofuels Mineral Oil Tax Relief, which is available until the end of 2010.

Second-generation biodiesel

One example of a biofuel producer here is Green Biofuels Ireland (GBI), a biodiesel processing plant that’s based in New Ross, Co Wexford. The company started producing biodiesel in 2008. Formed by a conglomerate of farmers and businesspeople, GBI produces second-generation biodiesel from waste products, such as oils and fats, as well as oilseed crops, which it says don’t interfere with the food chain. It currently produces 30,000 tonnes of biofuels annually, the equivalent of removing 20,000 vehicles from Ireland’s roads each year. GBI is also looking into how algae and seaweed can be used to produce biofuels.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic