Are Biofuels the real answer?
by Alan Harten
January 14, 2008
The race is very much on to produce viable alternatives to gasoline. As oil hits the $100 mark, venture capitalists, and corporate executives are clambering to get on the biofuel ladder. But is it the magic pill to solve our energy woes?
Prices of all kinds of agricultural products that biofuels are, ‘traditionally’ made from are also soaring, as worldwide demand for both basic foods and biofuels accelerates.
The price of corn and soy both hit all time highs last week, both are staple foods and both are major players in the biofuel industry, such increases, are aggravating many kinds of consumer giants, for example, beer and cereal makers.
This is pushing governments and entrepreneurs to look for non food based biofuels, there is strong research into cellulosic ethanol a wood and grass based version of the fuel, but that seems to be three, or four years away from even starting production.
Just to add fuel, to this already raging fire, a new energy bill, signed into law in the U.S. last month, mandates that, corn based ethanol, must reach peak capacity by 2015, and that new, advance biofuels, should begin full scale growing in that same year.
Further, that by the year 2020, U.S production of biofuels, made from these other new sources should overtake corn ethanol production, brings overall production to 36 billion gallons annually.
It is believed that another biofuel, made from switchgrass, could cut greenhouse emissions by much more, than fuels made from corn or sugar.
“Corn is still going to be grown to make ethanol. Whether (cellulosic) ever takes a chunk of crop land away from corn is all going to come down to economics,” states Ken Vogel, a researcher for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Overshadowing all this, questions still remain about the basic concept of using food producing land, to make biofuels, thus leaving less land for human, and animal, food production, possibly causing massive scale, food shortages, and huge, basic food, price increases
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