It's rarely a good week for the world's biofuel industry, but even by the rather tempestuous standards of the last year the past seven days have represented something of a new low.
You know your industry has a bit of an image problem when the UN is indirectly blaming it for poor people going hungry.
In the past week, we've seen the German government ditch plans to increase the proportion of biofuel in petrol, Gordon Brown raise concerns with other G8 leaders that more needs to be done to limit biofuels impact on food prices , a report claim the bioethanol investment peak is over, and a UK firm exiting the biofuel refinery business amidst complaints US subsidies are tilting the whole global market in favour of US operators.
That said, it is hard to disagree with the view of Primafuel's Rahul Iyer that it is far to early to right off the biofuel sector.
There are undoubtedly major problems with first generation biofuels both in terms of their impact on the environment and on food prices, and as such firms would be wise to avoid first generation biofuels and Brown really should turn his current concerns into action and suspend the UK's biofuels target.
But despite well docuemented problems the emergence of more sustainable alternatives based on waste or algae raises hope that biofuels do have a role to play in the low carbon economy.
Whether or not second generation biofuels can be developed on a scale large enough to genuinely replace fossil fuels remains to be seen, but enough new developments are being reported – such as this week's news of a waterless biodiesel production method - to suggest there is hope for the biofuels sector yet.
Have a good weekend,
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