Thursday, November 8, 2007

Biofuel production reality check

According to a new study by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers, interviewed recently by ZDNet, the globally, we can only meet 4 to 5 percent of our current oil needs with biofuels.

I almost agree with Mr. Johnson's statement about the potential for biofuels. He appears to be approaching the idea realistically. It isn't a panacea, it isn't going to single-handedly unseat oil as our energy source of choice (until we run out that is). But, he does say "We’re not saying, 'There’s all this potential out there, go get it,'" but rather as his research partner Tracey Holloway says:
“We’re not suggesting that all exported vegetable oil should be converted into biodiesel, because that would fundamentally upset the food supply,” says Holloway. “We’re looking at this more from each individual country’s perspective: They’re already exporting one thing, could they be exporting something else”"
They are still seeing this as a potential global market problem to solve, and it very well may be, and envisioning that future is useful and challenges people to solve that problem, however, wouldn't it be better to take the Brazilian approach and have countries resolve their own energy usage needs before attempting to resolve other countries? In a place where gas is 20$/gallon, and a potential biofuel is 50 cents per liter, isn't that an opportunity for local innovation in energy usage as well as global market potential? Wouldn't the introduction of a cheap local alternative be as much of an economic and social improvement instead of focusing on the economic advantage of feeding some other countries energy needs for the benefit of corporate investors, conglomerates, etc?

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