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Biodiesel: Fuel for thought

Date: 14 November 2007

The Insider is a fleet manager with years of invaluable experience

Despite several large hurdles being in the way it's becoming increasingly clear to me that biodiesel has a future, says The Insider

So biodiesel could be the eco-fleet fuel of choice after all? I realise this statement will have plenty of you searching for a rolleyes smiley right now and, I agree, I'm just as cautious.

But reading about this deal whereby Morrisons rolls out the 30% blend to trial in Sky's Vauxhall vans has me feeling hopeful. For sure I wouldn't relish tackling that Nectar points resistance from the drivers, or indeed forcing them onto the supermarket forecourt for every fill, but otherwise I see a future. With a proportion of veggie oil swilling about in the fleet's tanks, the company makes a tangible CO2 saving that can be truthfully spun as PR goodness at no extra expenditure.

We just need more manufacturers to follow the example of Citroen, Peugeot, Vauxhall and Renault (the latter two vans only) and announce they won't be ripping up the warranty if their diesels are run on the 30% stuff. If it's the same price as regular diesel, as Morrisons are saying, then why not switch?

However, the politics of biofuels could get problematic. I mean, it's not going to do the company image any good if biofuel usage leads to claims you're personally stealing food from the mouths of African orphans. Some Sorbonne university professor actually called biofuels a "crime against humanity" last week, which seems a little strong.

In the same week I also read that a proportion of 250,000 lambs to be culled in Wales and Scotland as part of foot and mouth prevention will be rendered into biodiesel. Lambs? Into fuel? Anyone else think this might not be the best way to promote green diesel? Never mind consumer and media opinion, my own daughter wouldn't let me run company vehicles on the stuff.

At the risk of a frosty silence at the breakfast table, it does at least show how versatile biofuels are. No matter what organic matter you've got, there's a good chance some bit of it can be used to make fuel and that's what'll give it a future, I reckon.

As to what future that'll be, let me run this scenario past you. With fossil fuel all but gone and obesity at an all-time high, the government cooks up a scheme whereby all individuals and companies have a fixed number of Energy Points. Do you spend them on food or fuel? It's up to you: "Yes you can have seconds little Johnny, but you'll have to walk to school Monday." Maybe I'm not the only one to think this. Can it be a co-incidence that the strongest biofuels supporter is. a supermarket?