Friedrich Wolf, managing director of E.ON Bioerdgas GmbH, will call for greater investment to improve efficiency and technological innovation in the agricultural sector to produce enough crops for both food and bio energy in a speech to top industrialists at the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) European Conference on Bio-Energy due to take place in Düsseldorf, Germany, on 04 May 2008.
As tensions grow in the Far East over the rising cost of food due to a surge in demand and the World Bank’s announcement to tackle rising costs around the globe, he is expected to say that it is not the rise in crops being used for bio-energy that is responsible for food shortages but inefficiencies in the global agricultural system.
“Global food production today is 2,800 kcal per human being a day, more than enough to feed all without any new effort. The imbalance in agricultural production is an ongoing scandal.”
He will argue that there are adequate resources to provide for both food and bio-energy without either camp losing out to each other. But this can only be achieved through improving efficiency and this is where scientists, the bio-energy industry and the agricultural industry can and must make a difference through technological innovation.
He says: “Bio-energy is good for the world because it will help us to control climate change which in turn helps food production because climate change is one of the major hazards to the stable supply of food, particularly in the Third World.”
Although there may be high costs, he will argue that investing in alternative energy sources such as bio-energy will create more value and a much better investment than competing for fossil reserves and driving up oil prices.
However, he is also expected to emphasise that the ethical issue of a choice or a trade-off between food needs, energy needs and climate change will appear on the agenda if the agricultural industry is unable to serve all demands. The contribution bio-energy can and should make is not unlimited.
“In the process of bio-energy development, extreme emphasis must be put on the efficiency of use. Bio-energy shows enormous growth potential still, but it is not an abundant source of energy. The energy output per hectare land must be the leading characteristics to determine which bio-energies should be employed.”
Currently the German Expert Council for Environmental Affairs (Sachverständigenrat für Umweltfragen) has set a limit for Germany of 25-35% of agricultural land that can be made available for energy crops without seriously affecting the domestic production of food. There are also plans to homogenise this throughout Europe with the UK already leading the way with its legislation – the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation – which will require that biofuels must show significantly smaller carbon footprints than their petroleum-based cousins in order to keep their government subsidies coming into effect on 15 April 2008.
Organised by SCI Europe in collaboration with the SCI Business Strategy Group, the conference will tackle a range of topics in the bio energy sector including Strategic Investments in Biogas, Bio Fuels and Solar Energy; Future market drivers, growth opportunities and different country perspectives and impact of EU.
The conference – Strategic Investments in Bio-Energy – will take place at the Hilton Hotel, Georg-Glock-Straße 20 , D-40474, Düsseldorf, Germany, on 04 May 2008.