Now that the President is again touting Ethanol, and we are getting it in our gas, it’s time to remember that Ethanol is not [even part of] the solution to the energy crisis. After all, Ethanol takes more energy to produce it than it generates. Yes, that’s right, it takes more energy [fossil fuel] to make Ethanol than you get when you burn it. [See: Cornell ecologist's study finds that producing ethanol and biodiesel from corn and other crops is not worth the energy]
In terms of energy output compared with energy input for ethanol production, the study found that:
* corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced;
* switch grass requires 45 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced; and
* wood biomass requires 57 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.
In terms of energy output compared with the energy input for biodiesel production, the study found that:
* soybean plants requires 27 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced, and
* sunflower plants requires 118 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.
In assessing inputs, the researchers considered such factors as the energy used in producing the crop (including production of pesticides and fertilizer, running farm machinery and irrigating, grinding and transporting the crop) and in fermenting/distilling the ethanol from the water mix. Although additional costs are incurred, such as federal and state subsidies that are passed on to consumers and the costs associated with environmental pollution or degradation, these figures were not included in the analysis.
“The United State desperately needs a liquid fuel replacement for oil in the near future,” says Pimentel, “but producing ethanol or biodiesel from plant biomass is going down the wrong road, because you use more energy to produce these fuels than you get out from the combustion of these products.”
Although Pimentel advocates the use of burning biomass to produce thermal energy (to heat homes, for example), he deplores the use of biomass for liquid fuel. “The government spends more than $3 billion a year to subsidize ethanol production when it does not provide a net energy balance or gain, is not a renewable energy source or an economical fuel. Further, its production and use contribute to air, water and soil pollution and global warming,” Pimentel says. He points out that the vast majority of the subsidies do not go to farmers but to large ethanol-producing corporations.
Ethanol is such an American “solution” to our energy problems. It generates enormous profits for the corn production and distribution industry [not for farmers] and is worth less than nothing
1 comment April 26th, 2006