Russia Decides to Take a Step Forward with Biofuels

Russia is not known for being a country with any immediate interests in renewable energy or biofuels. The country still has a great deal of invested time and money in oil and coal based power plants are still a common sight in many parts of the country. Recently, however, it has been announced that Russia will be preparing for the construction of the country’s first biofuel production plant.

Spearheaded by the Russian Technologies Corporation, a state owned company with a diverse background in various technological developments, the biofuel plant will be built in order to create a “new modern fuel.” Sergei Chemezov, head of Russian Technologies Corp., has announced that they will begin construction on the plant sometime in March or April of next year near Tulun; a town in the Irkutsk region of Siberia where a thriving timber and coal industry is currently based. Russia believes that the construction of this plant will be critical in getting Russia on track for reducing carbon emissions nationwide. Currently, Russia has no true programs in place with a similar goal in mind so they believe that this plant can kick start the whole affair.

During the announcement, Chemezov made note that the biofuels the plant would be producing would be unique in comparison to various other biofuel programs found around the world. Instead of using sugar cane, corn, or other switch grass or seed based biomasses as the starting point for biofuel, Russian Technologies plans to use a mixture of wood chips, roots, and other timber based products. The direct end result of the procedure will result in a mixed fuel of, presumably, gasoline and the wood based biobutanol with an overall mixture of approximately 10% to 15%.

Some critics have been quick to point out that this biofuel plant may not be as big a step as Russia is hoping to make it seem. It has been pointed out that since the source of the biofuel will be wood and timber based byproducts, they will presumably have to be produced by cutting down large chunks of the nearby forests. It is also worth noting that even if done properly, this is but a small change in a country where fossil fuels reign supreme.

Despite the obvious negatives, however, it is still exciting to see Russia taking a step towards at least thinking about doing something to regulate carbon emissions through biofuels. It can be assumed that should the plant end up as big as Chemezov is hoping, Russia could start an entire biofuel based industry and then eventually move on to other renewable energy sources. Considering the size of the country and the amount of resources they could use to start such a program, Russia could potentially become home to one of the world’s largest renewable energy programs to date. That, however, remains to be seen and we will have to wait and watch.

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