The state and HVB

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Keywords: HVB, HVP, vegetable oil fuel, diesel, tax, Tipp, ademe, state money.

In the region of Agen, a hundred cars rolled for several years with straight vegetable oil (SVO) of Valénergol (Energy recovery oilseeds), the company that created ecologist Mason 1996 with twenty friends "prove life-size it is possible to produce energy without any tutelage, governmental or economic." Five years later, the experience comes to an end. If the manufacture and use of plant fuel posed no problem Valénergol has however failed to get rid of tax supervision. Receive a complaint from the National Directorate of customs investigations, the police Agen court sentenced the two managers of the company, 18 October 33 000 francs to pay the Treasury to be sold to motorists' minimum 10 000 liters of sunflower oil "without paying the excise tax on petroleum products (TIPP), which is exempt all biofuels - with the exception of crude sunflower, rapeseed and coconut. According to Markus Gröber, owner of a small artisanal oil mill near Agen, which feeds three tractors with fuel, "oil is produced for engines has only one flaw: it's far too easy to do ". "Customs does not want to hear about," says Etienne Poitrat, head of biofuels at the Environment Agency and Energy Management (ADEME).

For the state, which receives each year 160 billion francs under the TIPP, the risk of tax avoidance is taken even more seriously than the production of this fuel is uncontrollable and its manufacturing process in the scope of all. Simply a small press 30 000 francs, one or two cells in plastic and a few hundred coffee filters, marvels Mr. FAIR, which tinkered a battery funnels to remove impurities this viscous liquid sold 4 francs per liter. The low oil prices (excluding tax) and customs vigilance does not alone explain the embryonic development of this renewable energy, well-known engine manufacturers for over a century.

If more than a hundred motorists daily use in France illegally, only a dozen legal experiments were conducted to date on agricultural machinery.

It's good that takes courage or unconsciousness to use this oil scientifically condemned from 1993, in a controversial report submitted to the Prime Minister. Written by Raymond Levy, former CEO of Renault and former number two of Elf, the paper explained how three lines in the direct use of oil "dirty cylinders" engines which she "deteriorating quality lubricants." A year earlier, a young doctor from the University of Poitiers, Gilles Vaitilingom had yet dedicated his thesis to the application of an oil can be used without problems in all diesel engines with indirect injection. The researcher was never consulted. The Levy report responding to a specific order: that of "enhancing the competitiveness of the diester sector", made from rapeseed, compared to diesel to provide a new outlet for industrial oilseed producers. Forsaken by the reform of the common agricultural policy requiring them to freeze 10% of their land, they were offered, with the diester, an unexpected outlet for growing their fallow allowed for energy purposes. All agricultural cooperatives and small traders then entered the capital Sofiprotéol, the financial body of the oilseed, which has invested hundreds of millions of francs in the construction of three chemical plants esterification. "The die has been securely locked by industry professionals," says Jean-Marie Charles, the State Secretariat for Industry. "Producers do not master anything, says Mr. Gröber, also producer of organic sunflower. All the oil from one plant to which we are forced to sell. "

Favorable studies

The last player was finally contribute to the production of vegetable oil serves only food. ADEME, where all the major French energy (TotalFinaElf, EDF, GDF, Rhone Poulenc, etc.) are represented on the board, and that alone provides all the expertise to governments on renewable energy, has never hidden his doubts about the qualities "unreliable" vegetable oils. "To have the support of ADEME, we had to agrees to buy 8 francs a liter of oil to industrial and Sofiprotéol partners, triple the price at which we could manufacture it ourselves," is recalls Jean-Loup Lesueur, president of Association of Agriculture and green energy, one of the leading French motorists to drive sunflowers. Presented to the experts from ADEME, in 1998, as part of a national competition on the production of biofuels, the draft Valénergol has not had the chance to be retained, officially on the grounds that it was too ambitious . But Mr. POITRAT, "is the Ministry of Finance who opposed its funding."

Faced with the monopoly of industrial, technical locks, adverse studies to the exemption from TIPP reserved solely ester chain, the artisans of crude vegetable oil have quickly had more choice but to continue alone and without public aid, sometimes illegally, their experiences on the carburetion. Other organizations, such as the Regional Council of Midi-Pyrénées, rated the process sufficiently promising to accept, against the advice of Mr. POITRAT to ADEME to finance their project by paying the TIPP on every liter of fuel consumed vegetable by tractors. Begun in November 1999, the experiment is in progress.

Le Monde, paper edition October 2001


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