Biofuels the Problem or the Answer?

WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
you decide...

http://petroleum.berkeley.edu/patzek/BiofuelQA/Materials/March_issue_low_res0207-11.pdf

http://www.hubbertpeak.com/pimentel/bioscienceEditorial200611.doc

http://www.hubbertpeak.com/Patzek/MythsAndTruths.pdf

http://www.eroei.com/articles/2007_articles/peak_soil/

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2812#more


The American corn ethanol industry is a prime example of this same
isolationist, something-for-nothing worldview. Promoters of corn
ethanol, who seem to be multiplying by the day, argue that their
fuel reduces U.S. dependence on foreign oil and therefore increases
America’s national security. But exactly which foreign oil producers
are so dangerous? Does the crude that comes from such notoriously
belligerent terrorist havens as Canada and Mexico – respectively,
the largest and second-largest suppliers to the U.S. market – pose
a threat to American security? That same ethanol crowd prefers to
ignore the fact that surging ethanol fuel production has led to a doubling
of the price of corn. Thus, while America gorges itself on ethanol,
impoverished citizens in Mexico are marching in the streets because
their tortillas now cost twice as much.

Comments

  • Lefty WrightLefty Wright Solar Expert Posts: 111 ✭✭
    Re: Biofuels the Problem or the Answer?

    The first article seemed to be the fossil fuel industry's spin.

    Why should ethanol be our only alternative and why should it be made of corn?

    Why are we subsidizing cotton and rice when we could be growing rape seed for bio-diesel?

    Why are we not developing more efficient, cleaner small diesel engines?

    The arguments against alternative motor fuels are similar to the arguments against universal health coverage.

    Disingenuous.

    Bio-fuels may not be the absolute cure but neither are they the demon that some make them out to be.
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: Biofuels the Problem or the Answer?
    The arguments against alternative motor fuels are similar to the arguments against universal health coverage.

    Disingenuous.

    Bio-fuels may not be the absolute cure but neither are they the demon that some make them out to be.

    No, but neither are they the Holy Grail that some make them out to be.

    There is enough hype on both sides to make it pretty hard to find out what it true or not, but it is becoming more and more apparent that all the hype about biofuels is just that - a lot more hype than fact. I have seen the same type of hype in the solar field for 20+ years.

    I would hardly call Rolling Stone magazine a tool of the oil industry. And the problem that many have with "universal health care" is not the care part, but the all government run part. Would you really want health care brought to you by the same folks that brought you Iraq, crashing bridges, Katrina cleanup, the famous "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska, 600 congressional hearings in 6 months, hundreds of billions in subsidies for Arthur Daniels Midland?

    BTW have you noticed that the price of a gallon of milk is up over 100% in the past 2 years? Supposedly, about 80% of that increase is due to higher feed prices because of the extremely high biofuels subsidies.
  • lamplightlamplight Solar Expert Posts: 368 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Biofuels the Problem or the Answer?

    my wife tells me they have made a genetically engineered cow that produces 1% lowfat milk.

    now thats a comforting thought.
    can't wait to try that, who's with me?

    anyhow biofuels.. i dunno, do people talk about population control any more? u know along the same lines as conservation?? i did read the pro vs con article a few months ago in HP on the subject (before my sub expired) i dont read the papers as it cheers me up too much.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,373 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Biofuels the Problem or the Answer?

    The VERY First consideration with bio-fuel, is that you harvest more than you put into the fields, water pumping, ferterlizer, tilling, weeding, whatever.
    That said, there are some better crops that produce oil, right off the field, the newiest I've heard of is Diesel Plant - Jatropha curcas, Squeeze it and right into the tank. About 35% oil. Of course it's posionous, etc... but for a fuel plant, it may work. India is big on it.
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  • lamplightlamplight Solar Expert Posts: 368 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Biofuels the Problem or the Answer?

    and another interesting point not talked about too much that i just read: water!

    just reading some info on switchgrass pellets as a heating fuel.. wondering if anyone has tried it and can comment on performance/cost compared to pellets? i understand they make the switchgass in pellet form.
  • TelcoTelco Solar Expert Posts: 201 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Biofuels the Problem or the Answer?

    The governor of Oklahoma had been talking up big on using switchgrass to make ethanol. I'm hoping they do, because Oklahoma has tons of the stuff growing all over, and as I understand it it's hard to keep the stuff FROM growing. Ideal renewable source of ethanol using the newer production methods. It's one of those that requires the enzymes to break down the sugar, unlike corn which is just there. It's these same enzymes that would allow us to use corn for food and the corn stalks for ethanol.

    I used to be a big proponent of ethanol, but have since moved on the support biodiesel. You get far more from a gallon of diesel than from a gallon of gasoline, when looking at two vehicles of the same weight. And, I also feel biodiesel and ethanol will only be a bridging fuel, to keep us going until electrical technology reaches the point that electric cars are feasible.
  • lamplightlamplight Solar Expert Posts: 368 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Biofuels the Problem or the Answer?

    switchgrass on the cover of this months wired magazine, haven't read yet.
    looks like they liken it to the messiah
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,509 admin
    Re: Biofuels the Problem or the Answer?

    This is what happens when the "Market" is managed by governments... Everyone gets "gamed":

    Wind-energy leader accused of inflating bills
    An indictment says the man's firm overbilled Xcel and the state for wind-generated power.
    Greg Jaunich, a pioneer of the Minnesota wind-energy industry, has been charged by federal authorities with defrauding Xcel Energy and the state of Minnesota by overstating the amount of power being produced by wind generators he operated in southwestern Minnesota.

    The overstatements in 2003 and 2004 translate to about $388,000 in overcharges to Xcel, according to an affidavit filed in the case.


    Jon Hopeman, Jaunich's attorney and a former federal prosecutor, said Friday his client denies the charges vehemently and is going to fight long and hard to defend himself and to restore his good name.


    ...
    Jaunich, 45, a businessman who left the commodities-trading business in 1991, founded Northern Alternative Energy in 1992.


    It was a time when the costs of generating electricity from wind had dropped significantly because of advanced technology, and utilities were looking for additional power.


    In Minnesota, the Legislature virtually jump-started development of wind farms in 1994 by requiring that Xcel Energy -- then Northern States Power Co. -- build or purchase several hundred megawatts of wind-generated power as part of a compromise that allowed additional storage of radioactive waste at the Prairie Island nuclear plant in Red Wing.

    ...

    The amount of wind power generated in the state grew from 25 megawatts in 1994 to nearly 900 megawatts in mid-2007, according to the association, making Minnesota the fourth-largest producer in the country after Texas, California and Iowa.

    ...

    According to a 2005 search warrant and affidavit filed in connection with this week's grand jury indictment, Jaunich inflated the electricity generated by a project he developed and managed in Shaokatan Township in Lincoln County called NAE Shaokatan Power Partners.


    Jaunich started to produce power from Gamesa wind turbines on the site and allegedly billed the Minnesota Commerce Department, which pays a per-kilowatt-hour incentive payment, for $176,136 in 2003 and 2004, even though NAE Shaokatan only was owed about $35,000, according to the affidavit.


    NAE Shaokatan similarly overbilled Xcel during the same period by 10,153,444 kilowatts of energy, or $388,369, according to the affidavit...

    California had a similar problem back in ~2000 when the regulators and lawmakers were too slow with changing regulations and the power traders were able to game the system (basically, utility companies were forced to by only short term 0-3 day contracts for power, and the energy brokers would buy multi-year contracts--once the power supply became tight, because nobody was building new generators, they could buy cheap and sell dear).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Biofuels the Problem or the Answer?

    bb,
    from what i see here of what you wrote about the problem with the government is that it is innexperienced and unknowledgable on the subject allowing some in the government and those that are crooked in the private sector to take advantage. no i'm not saying all in the government or private sector are no good, but the bad ones do take advantage and give the honest ones in either a bad name.
    general,
    i would say that biofuels are a good supplement (less than 10% if lucky) and that's it as we are not going to be able to use only biofuels to keep this wastefull country going.
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