The media today in Germany are filled with the news of the ethanol debacle.
The government has mandated that super grade gasoline be sold with a minimum content of 10% ethanol in Germany, so-called E10 gasoline. But as always, when the wishes of the government clash with the wishes of the markets and citizens, then you get chaos. That’s the case today in Germany.
Never mind that burning ethanol is an environmental debacle that leads to the destruction of forests and food shortages that lead to higher prices and more hunger worldwide, but it also burns less efficiently and causes damage to many cars. It is yet another well-intentioned program that is making things only worse. Nobody in Germany wants the stuff – neither the drivers nor the environmentalists.
WDR public TV has a report here (in German), which interviews an expert from the environmental group Bundesumwelt- und Naturschutz, Werner Reh, who calls the whole program “stupidity”:
Laws are passed where ethanol percentage requirements are mandated without even knowing where the quantities are going to come from. They have to be certified. A 35% reduction of CO2 has to be shown. Yet the indirect impacts on landuse are not even included in the calculation, and if you do that, then the entire CO2 reduction is wiped out completely.”
But German consumers are not avoiding ethanol for those reasons. Many are simply afraid that the 10% ethanol content will damage their auto engines. So what is the result? They aren’t buying the fuel blend and are opting for the more expensive super premium gasoline instead, paying about €0.40 per US gallon more.
Petrol stations aren’t selling the unwanted ethanol blended fuel. So with unsold E10 gasoline piling up, refineries will soon find themselves scaling back production and will incur additional costs, which eventually the consumer will have to bear.
Gas stations that are still offering the fuel will continue to do so. But the rest are refusing to order it. Holger Krawinkel, energy expert of the Federal Association of Consumer Centres (that’s the best translation I can come up with) offers a brilliant observation, read here:
With biofuels, the costs of CO2 savings are very high.”
Unfortunately that’s the case with almost all renewable energy forms, and not just with biofuels. And we should again ask ourselves what are these high costs for?
A couple of tenths of a degree less warming over 100 years.