From 1957—Electrifying the French Railroad System

Seldom has there been so clear a win in migrating from one technology to another than replacing steam-powered locomotives with electric traction. Prior to electrification, 12% of the entire capacity of the French railway network was used just to haul coal around the country to power the locomotives themselves. Electrification drastically reduced fuel consumption (even after taking into account losses in electricity generation and transmission), maintenance time and costs, increased speed, and improved utilisation by cutting turn-around time.

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Interesting semi-bypass of diesel. Nevertheless, diesel was used and now is being phased out.

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Are we allowed to ask what percentage of rapeseed biodiesel would be needed to power the farm and transport equipment that produce and deliver biodiesel?

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Why switch to rapeseed now if in 10 years you will be using some magical power source that doesn’t cause co2 emissions?

My guess is that the EU defines biodiesel as green.

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As with everything in which the EU meddles, “It’s complicated”. See the Wikipedia article “Biofuel in the European Union” for some of the gory details.

Current EU legislation on biofuels includes a goal to increase renewable energy consumption by 20%, eliminate biofuel feedstock sourced from carbon-rich land, accounting for emissions caused from land use change as well as solely biofuel usage, and reducing greenhouse gas intensities from fuels used in transport and machinery.

  1. Biofuels must achieve greenhouse gas savings of at least 35% versus fossil fuels, which then rises to 50% in 2017, then rises again to 60% in 2018. The rising standards are only for new production plants. (The entire life cycle emissions of the fuel are taken into account in these savings which includes cultivation, processing, and transport.)
  2. Biofuels must not be grown in areas that are currently, or were previously, carbon sinks (e.g. wetlands, forests).
  3. Raw materials obtained from areas with high biodiversity, such as forests or grasslands, cannot be used to produce biofuels.

Biofuels are also increasing greenhouse gas emissions through a phenomenon known as indirect land use change, as biofuels displace food production and farmers are forced to reclaim land from carbon-rich ecosystems such as forests and peatlands. Old growth trees act as carbon sinks, when farmers clear those forests this releases the carbon that was locked up in those large trees. But not all biofuels are equal in their impact. Second-generation biofuels do not displace food production or cause more greenhouse gas emissions. To address this issue, in November 2016, the EU revised its renewable energy directive, which now calls for a complete ban on first-generation biofuels. Fuels made from oils such as palm oil and soy oil are being especially targeted. The revised Renewable Energy Directive covers the period 2021 to 2030, and also “calls for a further increase in the share of renewable energy in the EU’s mix to at least 27% by 2030”. At the same time, it aims to cut the use of crop-based biofuels to 3.8% of transport fuel and shift the market towards’ secondary biofuel sources. There are also debates around converting land from food to biofuels, which could drive up food prices and threaten food security. With current population growth and water shortages this could be very dangerous.

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