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Building the Perfect Beast: Designing Advanced Alternative Fuel Policy to Work

12 Jul 18
Chris Malins
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Cerulogy attended Biomass Conference and Exhibition in Copenhagen this year (2018) to present a paper on building more effective policy for advanced alternative fuel commercialisation. The paper is now available in the conference proceedings, or you can download it below.


Since the year 2000, grand aspirations have been set for the development of a new advanced alternative fuel industry, but targets have repeatedly been missed and deployment of new facilities has delivered only a tiny fraction of the fuel production forecast by the most ambitious policies. This paper argues that one of the main reasons for this shortfall between goals and achievement is the use of policy frameworks that have not been designed to provide long-term value certainty. The setting of energetic targets for the supply of advanced alternative fuels was intended to give the market the flexibility to choose the lowest cost solutions. Instead, the value-uncertainty built into such policies as a feature has contributed to an investment environment in which high capital expenditure projects using new technologies are profoundly disadvantaged compared to high operational expenditure fuel production at first generation plants. The market has thus failed to deliver the best value long-term solutions. An alternative policy framework is proposed in which credits would be awarded for advanced alternative fuel production, and fuel suppliers would be required to support that production by buying all available credits at the end of the year at a prescribed price. That price would be fixed up to an annual supply target; beyond that annual supply target, the per-credit price would be scaled down in proportion to the degree of over-achievement in supply, allowing a firm cap to be set on the cost of support to fuel consumers. While the market would be able to expand supply until the adjusted credit price reflected marginal production costs, the high levels of price variability in existing biofuel credit markets would be avoided. It is argued that such a framework could be much more effective at driving investment than a simple mandate, while avoiding excessive costs for fuel suppliers or consumers.

Building the perfect beast