Domestic Incentive Measures for Renewable Energy With Possible Trade Implications

In recent years the manufacturing of renewable-energy technologies has become truly global. The associated rise in international investment and trade in goods and services related to renewable energy has been rapid, but it has not always been smooth. Already there have been challenges at the WTO, and the unilateral imposition of countervailing and anti-dumping duties, in response to some countries' policies on the grounds that they distort trade.

Natural gas fracking well in Louisiana

Another study (summary, full report) indicating that biofuel mandates (this time in the EU) will result in extra land conversion, and associated large emissions of greenhouse gases. The analysis, by the Institute for European Environmental Policy, found that

between 4.1 and 6.9 million hectares of additional land will need to be cropped due to the increasing conventional biofuel demand, set out in national plans. This is equivalent to an area of somewhere between the size of Belgium and the Republic of Ireland. The report estimates that this would lead to additional annual emissions of between 27 and 56 million tonnes of carbon dioxide between 2011 and 2020, associated with land conversion[6]. This would be equivalent to having 12 to 26 million additional cars on Europe’s roads in 2020.

The political response to the entire land use issue in the US has been to try to exclude it from calculations and regulations.  Hopefully the same won't be true for Europe.

Another interesting finding was that exact assumptions on land use impacts didn't affect the policy recommendation very much:

Sensitivity analysis completed during the work demonstrates that the overarching message of failure to deliver GHG savings from conventional biofuel use remains the same even when far lower estimates of ILUC [indirect land use change] and GHG emissions from land use change are applied. This underlines the need to address the question of ILUC associated with biofuel use as a priority. The current evidence clearly points to ILUC emissions undermining the arguments for the use of conventional biofuels as an environmentally sustainable, renewable technology.


A Boon to Bad Biofuels: Federal Tax Credits and Mandates Underwrite Environmental Damage at Taxpayer Expense

Federal Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) were nearly quintupled in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, mandating use of 36 billion gallons of biofuels per year by 2022.  Because key federal subsidies scale linearly with production without limit, biofuels will receive more than $400 billion in cumulative subsidies between 2008 and 2022; nearly 40% of this will flow to corn ethanol.  Should proposals advanced by the Obama campaign to boost the mandate to 60 billion gallons per year by 2030 be implemented by the Obama administration, cumulative subsidie