What is renewable fuel?
A renewable fuel is made with raw materials that are renewed continuously over the years. Trees and grains are examples of raw materials that can be produced in a short period of time, compared to traditional fossil materials such as oil and gas, which are by definition not renewable as it takes millions of years for them to form. The use of renewable raw materials is crucial to counteract global warming.
Fossil raw materials, such as crude oil and coal, contain carbon from millions of years ago. At that time, carbon was not released as CO2 after the death of the plants, because it was hidden under layers of soil. During that long period underground, the material fossilized and was not part of the carbon cycle. But because we now use it as fuel, the carbon is released into the atmosphere, resulting in a huge increase in CO2 emissions. This release of CO2 is so substantial that it can’t absorbed completely by our plants and trees, so it hovers to form a ‘blanket’ around our planet. Heat from the sun reaches the earth and is absorbed by the CO2, and remains in our atmosphere, contributing to increased temperatures, i.e. the greenhouse effect, which causes global warming.
How do renewable raw materials help to limit global warming?
When using renewable raw materials, the CO2-cycle can remain in balance. When trees, plants, and grains are allowed to grow, CO2 is converted through their life cycle. If we then use them to make fuel, that CO2 will be released. As long as there are enough living plants to absorb this amount of CO2, we have a neutral CO2-cycle.
Why do we want to limit global warming?
As the earth warms up, our climate will continue to change. Climate change will seriously endanger the lives of humans, animals, and plants. Among the consequences are rising sea levels, increased drought and heat periods, extreme precipitation, and floods. We must avoid this cycle at all cause if we want to keep the earth a healthy, pleasant place for our children and the subsequent generations.
How are we combining forces worldwide?
In the Paris Agreement (signed by 174 countries on April 22, 2016), governments agreed that we must take serious measures to minimize global warming. One way to affect change is to switch from fossil to renewable fuels, so that a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will be achieved. Consequently, the contribution of fuels to the greenhouse effect, and hence to global warming, would remain limited. The transition of traditional fossil fuels to renewable raw materials is crucial for many applications in our society, from heating and electricity to materials, chemicals and fuels.