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    An IDB-Sponsored “Blueprint for Green Energy in the Americas”

    By Keith R | April 3, 2007

    Topics: Biofuels, Economics & the Environment, Energy & the Environment | 2 Comments »

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    At the briefing on the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) biofuel investment plans for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the Bank finally released the study it commissioned from consultant Garten Rothkopf on biofuels entitled “A Blueprint for Green Energy in the Americas.” To download the various portions of the study, follow this link.

    I confess that I have not yet read all 659 pages of the report, but I certainly plan to. I am somewhat encouraged by this paragraph in the introduction, though:

    The enthusiasm surrounding the biofuels sector is infectious. However, it is a basic assumption of this report that biofuels are not a panacea, but one important choice in an increasing array of energy options. They have a significant role to play in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from transport and represent an opportunity for the region to build on its natural endowments by establishing world-class centers of innovation and production, developing rural economies, and attracting private sector investment. The report seeks to cut through the hype surrounding biofuels, and alternative energy writ large, and present an objective, fact-based analysis of the region’s global competitive position looking forward to 2020.

    Ethanol GHG Emission Reductions Compared to Gasoline (click to enlarge)I also like that the report (1) emphasizes how the Brazilian case is different, and may remain so, from other LAC nations; (2) takes care to examine how biofuels might stack up against other energy options, both in the mix for LAC nations and in terms of competition in the global marketplace. Nonetheless, until I have read it cover-to-cover, I am not ready to opine whether or not the authors actually succeeded in not succumbing to biofuel fever and hype and actually provided the levelheaded analysis they sought to deliver.

    In the meantime, let’s examine some of their principal recommendations. First off, they wisely choose not to suggest a “one size fits all” policy or regime for biofuels, or even a single choice of fuel to prioritize. They did, however, identify some “areas of common need” among the Bank’s members, namely:

    What does the report specifically suggest for the IDB’s role in all this?

    Potential of the Ethanol Fuel Market in Central America (click to enlarge)It’s an interesting set of ideas and proposals. Support for infrastructure development and rational production capacity expansion seems well-suited to the IDB.

    I like the idea of looking beyond the US market to Asia-Pacific, which many LAC nations (other than Brazil) currently are failing to do.

    Fostering joint R&D efforts is probably a good and necessary idea, given the state of R&D in many of the LAC nations, particularly in the Caribbean and Central America and South America’s smaller nations. I have reservations, though, about the idea of making palm oil the centerpiece of any regional R&D effort on biodiesel, since recent studies have called into question how “green” a biofuel palm oil really is.

    IDB support for studies could be very helpful, particularly if not limited to the usual market and feasibility studies. IDB help in conducting much-needed research on environmental and rural development impacts would be welcome, since most LAC nations at the moment are neglecting to do before plunging headlong into biofuel development…

    All in all, not a bad start to a what will hopefully be a full, vigorous regional debate on how best to proceed on biofuels.

    –Keith R

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    2 Responses to “An IDB-Sponsored “Blueprint for Green Energy in the Americas””

    1. The Big Biofuels Blog Says:

      Holiday time and more traveling…

      Sorry that the posts have been a bit erratic of late. I had a week in the States filming for ICIS TV (check it out) from the NPRA convention in San Antonio Texas, and after three days in the office……In the meantime check out the Temas Blog for a good dissection of An IDB-Sponsored “Blueprint for Green Energy in the Americas”. See you soon.

    2. Holiday time and more traveling | The Big Biofuels BlogThe Big Biofuels Blog Says:

      […] the meantime check out the Temas Blog for a good dissection of An IDB-Sponsored “Blueprint for Green Energy in the Americas”. See you […]

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