Sunday, July 06, 2008

What's in a word?

When are biofuels not biofuels? Well, it seems, when they are in a proposal for an EU directive.

While I was having fun at Waddington Air Show, watching "carbon footprints" so huge as to make the Greenies shriek in agony, the energy ministers of the EU member states were having an "informal" meeting, whence they decided they had been labouring for 18 months under the false impression that an EU plan to fight global warming included an obligation to develop biofuels.

That the commission intended that biofuels should comprise 10 percent of all transport fuel is beyond doubt. But when it came to the draft directive, a certain amount of ambiguity has crept in, with the formal reference being made not specifically to biofuels but to "renewable energy".

With biofuels now about as popular as a Vulcan bomber fly-past at a climate change conference, ministers – led Jean-Louis Borloo, the French environment and energy minister, had leapt upon the commission's ambiguity. He and his "colleagues" are now convinced that other alternatives can be chosen, with Borloo, in particular, fastening on hydrogen-based technology.

The beauty of this is that, to be produced in the sort of quantities needed, the only feasible option would be high-temperature electrolysis, using electricity generated by nuclear power – of which France has an abundance.

It would be such fun to see the French – and the others – take up this option, which would be entirely within the letter, but certainly not within the spirit of the commission's proposed law. Even more fun would be the fury of the Greenies who would have to suffer the prospect of their environmentally friendly cars being reliant on nuclear power.

For that, it would almost be worth going "green" and driving one of the ridiculous things pictured at the top of this post.


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