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Are Biofuels Right for Canadians?

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by

Al Peter

on 7 January 2013

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Transcript of Are Biofuels Right for Canadians?

Biofuels are fuels that come from biomass, which is any matter that is derived from plants or animals. The basic distinction in biofuels is between unprocessed biofuels, such as fuel wood, and processed biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel. which is an energy crop that yields a processed biofuel: Corn Ethanol and biodiesel are the most commonly used liquid biofuels. Ethanol is obtained through the fermentation and distillation of raw materials. Fuel Manufacturers The International Energy Agency predicts a 40% increase in global energy demand by 2030. So what are we going to use?
Is it worth while to use ethanol? There are 220 ethanol plants in Canada including: (million litres) : 1976 1981 1990 1993 1999
Fuel ethanol : 0 4 11 24 150
Industrial ethanol : 34 39 34 38 40
Total domestic demand: 34 43 45 62 190 Investments:
Jobs 13,420 person-years
Capital Investment $1,959,998,000
Net Economic Activity in Canada $2,600,214,000
Municipal Taxes $91,872,000
Provincial Taxes $468,305,000
Federal Taxes $638,714,000
Total Taxes $1,198,891,000 Jobs – Over 1,000 permanent manufacturing jobs have been created to support ongoing plant operations. Over 14,000 new direct and indirect jobs were created in construction of new
production facilities.
Economic Activity – the economic benefit to the Canadian economy from the renewable fuels sector is $2.0 billion per year.
An additional 55 direct jobs per year created by ongoing operations. Pros: Demand for ethanol: Studies show that consumers are influenced in their choice of alternative fuels by three factors: price, drivability issues, and environmental impacts. And... Main driver for government support for biofuels are concerns about climate change, energy security, and to support the agricultural sector. Cons: Cannot use existing oil pipe lines because of ethanol’s corrosive nature. Process of the creation of ethanol creates lots of carbon dioxide (more than it would save to use fossil fuels) Ethanol production costs: Blending (gasoline + ethanol) there is a certain cost for blenders to accommodate ethanol and this cost is mainly determined by the following factors: need for a low VP (vapour pressure) base stock gasoline, maintenance of the drivability index (DI) specifications-transportation and storage of ethanol.

Ethanol added to gasoline increases vapour pressure. To maintain the required VP, refiners will need to install facilities to remove butane from gasoline. estimated cost of ethanol from corn of $0.35/l, the processing cost (production cost net of feedstock cost).
ethanol from corn costs twice as much as ethanol from sugarcane
producing ethanol from grains in Canada has been reported to have been between C$0.36 and C$0.46 per litre for ethanol Conclusion: Ethanol not a viable energy source, easily changing price (depending on agricultural effects), cannot compete with fossil fuels (price to manufacture and transportation), does not have enough research, will affect food prices if used further in future, drastic food price increases. Its development is likely to be highly dependent on technology improvements that reduce production costs and increase environmental benefits Modern liquid biofuels, or 'first-generation' biofuels, only use the starch and sugar in living matter to produce fuel. Some statistics: Bioenergy covers 10% of the total world demand for energy. The Government Key Question Bioenergy is primarily used in homes (80%), and then industry (18%), while liquid biofuels, such as ethanol, play a limited role in transport (2%). What are the economic benefits of biofuel production and potential energy independence? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? - Is the government interested in biofuels like ethanol? - Why should it be?
reasons: For or Against? The Task What is the governments’ job?
- to oversee the whole biofuels sector
- the government is the only one with the power to do so
What must it do?
- stimulate, manage and regulate the production of biofuels Stimulate Regulate and Manage - Develop programs
- Create policies Ethanol Problems There are main problems preventing the growth of the ethanol industry:
- Remove inter-provincial barriers to trade.
- Remove obstacles that discourage the construction and operation of large-scale biofuel plants.
- Enhance funding for research and development activities.
- Encourage production of corn for fuel, without affecting the amount of corn meant for food. The Facts: These products contain significant amounts of sugar or starch, found in sugar cane, sugar beet, or products such as wheat and corn. Interesting... However, 'second generation' biofuels are now being produced to make use of other, more prominent plant parts such as cellulose and lignin. Biofuels Examining the Positive and Negative Impacts for Canadians and Canada First, what are biofuels? The different
perspectives Farmers Key points: As a farmer, an increasing demand for biofuels would expand the market on valuable energy crops such as corn, soy, canola, and wheat. Most of the world's biofuels are being produced outside of Canada, in places like the U.S, Europe and Brazil. The Government of - Fix the price of ethanol
- Select specific areas of agricultural land solely for the purpose of growing corn for ethanol:
- areas that need jobs
- areas that are well-suited for corn production
- Manage where the ethanol processing plants are located. Oh No! Inter-provincial barriers Each province has its own set of tax exemptions on ethanol, varying widely in terms of amount, eligibility and duration. Heterogenous mix of policies It can lead to production of ethanol in areas that are not well suited for it. Federal government needs to take charge Like: consumer rebates, a range of subsidies for production, research, etc. Large-scale biofuel plants There is a link, proven in costs studies done around the world, between efficiency of production and the size of the ethanol plant. * Bigger the plant = More efficient = More cost advantageous * Research and Development The government in Canada supports many programs that fund various types of biofuel research. Research in Canada is mainly aimed at developing more efficient processes for converting plant-based starches into alcohol. This research has been a huge help in bringing down the average costs of producing biofuels by making it more efficient. Corn production Places corn is grown and that are suitable:
- Most corn is grown in Eastern Canada (Ontario 58% and Quebec 35%)
- Corn production in western Canada has increased over the past 5 years (ex: Manitoba) Even with government intervention, food prices will increase as a result of using arable land to grow biofuels-> many repercussions
ex:
- instability
- affects poor families
-> makes government unhappy
- etc. Conclusion Cons: - the government will have to address the four problems mentioned
earlier
- the price of corn will rise slightly -> unhappy government
- Government needs to make sure there is enough transportation
to distribute the corn and ethanol -> railroad tracks, pipes Pros: Economic benefits:
- creates jobs in rural communities
- can reduce greenhouse gas emissions
BUT....
- ex: Kyoto Protocol Government pro What are they? From Answers.com:n. Farming engaged in as a large-scale business operation embracing the production, processing, and distribution of agricultural products and the manufacture of farm machinery, equipment, and supplies. Key Questions Who will receive the profits from ethanol production? * Will people be willing to pay more for food if food prices increase as a result of using arable land to grow biofuels? * Pros: - More industry, more buyers for their corn. - The agricultural companies will gain more money because of the increased prices. Cons: - Food prices will increase as a result of using arable land to grow biofuels
- People will not be willing to pay more for food because it adds up to be expensive. Price of corn affects many other food sectors (ex: animal feed -> pigs -> pork). However, Canada is becoming more prominent with its research into ethanol facilities and biodiesel production. Pros: Cons: In Canada, about 1.8 billion litres of fuel ethanol and 110 million litres of biodiesel are produced every year; ethanol is produced from corn and wheat, while biodiesel comes mostly from used cooking oils and animal fat. For farmers, the biofuel industry is beneficial as the global demand for biofuels is increasing. Also... Second generation biofuels are being produced to harness more of the energy available in biomass, increasing combustible energy in the final product, and providing more significant environmental sustainability. However, for farmers, ethanol production on their own farms is challenging, because economically it does not satisfy as much demand as biodiesel for example, and there are many regulations that have to be abided. Fuel ethanol that is produced from corn in Canada has 1.6 times more combustible energy than the energy used to manufacture it. By 2015, this number is projected to go increase to 2.3. Biofuels as a sustainable energy source: Available cellulosic sources for biofuels include waste products from agriculture, forestry, processing industries and fast growing trees and grass. BIOFUELS = Conclusion: Farmers are for bioenergy as it is gaining more and more demand around the world, promising rising profits and a steady market full of new opportunities in sustainability and energy growth. We'll be focusing primarily on Even with price fluctuations, farmers have the flexibility to sell their crops to food markets if the price on biofuels drops. Canada's largest manufacturer: Greenfield Ethanol Inc. over a 100 million litres a year. From an Environmentalist’s Perspective Why are we discussing biofuels?
Why is this topic so important for the environment? Because of the grave environmental crisis we humans are facing in the 21st century, should we fail to address this problem now, we will face much more severe, possibly irreversible consequences in the future. Here are some facts: It is for this reason that we are studying, today, biofuels, a renewable energy. This kind of energy may be a large factor in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, ultimately the reason for which we are in this environmental crisis. An Environmental Crisis What are fossil fuels?

Non-renewable energy source that comes from the decomposition of organic material over a long period of time.
Industrial Revolution in 1850 -->
Use of cars/trains/industries/factories -->
Ways to power these means of transportation -->
Fossil Fuels (cheapest, easiest, fastest, very powerful) Can they be good for the environment? Why are they so bad? Can a biofuel (Ethanol made from Corn)
be a solution to this crisis?

- Growing a natural substance, engaging in production of fuels in a natural way, (ie: corn, ethanol, renewable energy) does not harm the landscape to the extend mining does

- Through the production process of ethanol, growing the corn, greenhouse gases are not only avoided but CO2, one of the most abundant greenhouse gas is converted, through photosynthesis, into O2.
- When corn ethanol is burned, it does not emit toxic gases including sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides. They are poisonous covalent compounds which are very harmful to organic matter Did you know that…Ethanol can generate greenhouse gas savings of about 1.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare per year!
Biofuels do seem like a promising new alternative energy source, however, they do present multiple deficiencies possibly even outweighing the positives… By creating farms and land to grow these crops, Canadians are forced to either exhaust the Prairie region’s farms, used primarily for food production, or move into provinces such as Ontario or Quebec to extend farmland. In effect, forest landscapes and other ecosystems are destroyed. The destruction of ecosystems: Cool Fact:

Conversion of forest land into crop fields can release 600–1 000 tons of CO2 per hectare - When practicing intensive agriculture on a certain farmland for a long period of time, the soil begins to degrade, losing its nutrients and in effect, losing its capability to host crops, such as corn.

The now deserted BADLAND lays, naked, devoid of any vegetation and is prone to erosion and degradation. This land now becomes useless and infertile.
While biofuels may seem beneficial to the well being of our environment in many ways and put a halt to global warming, in reality, its negative consequences outweigh the positive benefits. This may lead to the extinction of many species on Earth, including homo sapiens. The Environmental Crisis 2 2 They can provide opportunities for improvements in the welfare of rural communities. Biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. * * 4 Right now, most of the world's biofuels are coming from countries outside of Canada, in the U.S, Europe and Brazil. Why grow crops for biofuels? BIOFUELS More that 80% of total worldwide energy is produced by fossil fuels What started this environmental crisis? No. Fossil Fuels 1. When they are extracted from mines, they require extensive energy and they destroy the landscape and habitat surrounding it.

2. Think about transportation…

3. When refined by factories and used by consumers, these fossil fuel based fuels emit massive quantities of CO2, carbon dioxide. This was ultimately the root cause of “global warming”. FACT:
Canada's greenhouse gas emissions were an estimated 747 megatons of carbon dioxide in 2005. These emissions have increased 25% since 1990, when they were estimated to be 596 megatons. PROS What’s so good about them, why do they help stall climate change and preserve our environment? - By using Ethanol from corn, one is in fact replacing one’s dependence on gasoline. In effect, one can reduce one’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30-40% per liter of “fuel” used. The process of changing feedstock's such as corn into ethanol fuel can be divided into four general steps:

1. The corn kernels are ground by a mill to release the starch inside.

2. The ground kernels are mixed with water, then cooked. After this, enzymes are added to convert the starch into sugar through a process called hydrolysis.

3. Yeast is added to the mixture to ferment the sugars in the mixture and produce ethanol.

4. The ethanol is separated from the mixture by distillation, and the water from the mixture is removed through dehydration. CONS - transforms a beautiful habitat into desolate badlands

- decreases biodiversity which is an essential to all living being on the planet, as all living being are dependent of other living beings and plays an important role in the durability of an ecosystem

- leads to deforestation which gravely impacts the level of O2 and CO2 in the atmosphere Another CON, intensive agriculture - The use of strong pesticides and fertilizers when growing corn crop can not only be toxic to living beings but also the soil and water. Contamination of the soil may lead to accelerated desertification, water loss and fatal diseases. - The use of these pesticide and fertilizers can also play a major role in the liberation of greenhouse gases.

“For example, nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential around 300 times greater than that of carbon dioxide, is released from nitrogen fertilizers.” CONCLUSION It may be wise to invest in developing technology which will permit us to utilize all parts of the corn, including the leaves and roots. This will increase the overall production of ethanol and offset any decreases in intensive agriculture to preserve the land and avoid degradation. It will take lots of energy to transport ethanol. Overall Conclusion: For the time being, ethanol is not a viable source of energy because it is not good from an environmental standpoint. Even with its economic benefits (job creation etc.), ethanol production is damaging to the environment and its sustainability, which are of greater importance for humans and the planet. That being said, with further research, ethanol could present itself as a more important fuel source in the future. *
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