Sunday, April 27, 2008

Moronic Attacks Against Biofuels Are Only Driving the Price of Oil Ever Higher

Biomass to liquid fuels (BTL) is a promising approach to weaning modern societies off of petroleum. As we learn to make transportation fuels from biomass and other non-food feedstocks, it is important not to kill the infant market while it is still in the cradle. Don't be stuck on stupid. 2nd and 3rd generation biofuels and biomass offers one way out of our petroleum trap.
Biofuels already make up about 50 per cent of the extra fuel coming to the market from sources outside the Opec’s oil cartel this year. This explains why fears of a retreat from biofuels this week helped drive oil prices to record levels.

William Ramsey, deputy executive director at the IEA, said: “If we didn’t have those barrels, I am not sure where we would be getting those half a million barrels [from],” adding that Opec has said it would not raise supply.

The warning comes as the backlash from rocketing food prices has increased pressure on the European Union and the US to review their support of fuel made from crops.

The views of the IEA carry significant weight in Europe and the US and policymakers have warned that the debate about biofuels should take into account its implications for energy markets and climate change. The issue has been put on the agenda for the next G8 summit in July. __FT
Advanced biofuels are the nearest term solution to ever higher energy prices. If you kill that chance, you have doomed yourself foolishly well.



Blogger John Nicklin said...

In terms of absolute, I agree with you, we do need to develop alternative sources of combustable fuels. If as you advise, we choose non-foods as feedstaock for the process, I'm all for it. I do, however, oppose the use of food as fuel. I'm also opposed to mowing down forests or displacing crop lands so that we can grow non-food feedstock.

Given our propensity to take the path of least resistance, I fear that we will take the simple, more destructive option.

I guess my question is this... Can we grow non-food feedstocks without using exisiting crop lands or without deforestation on a massive scale?

8:21 AM  
Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

There are actually two questions there:

Can we produce that feedstock without using existing crop land?


Would we do it?

Even assuming that we decide that crop land that is no longer used due to past (or even future) productivity gains in agriculture needs to be left to nature, the crop/livestock/fisheries wastes, sewage, garbage, desert and possibly winter algae and bacterial tank farms and such need to be totaled up to answer the first question. I would also suppose that most people would be okay with using land not needed for food productivity to be used partial wilderness biomass production (i.e. prairies that are harvested periodically so that they can serve both as wildlife habitat and biomass sources.)

The second question will probably require there to be some non preferential limits on land use so that the price pressure between food prices and energy/transportation costs. Perhaps if owning land in a wilderness state was rewarded with a tax deduction it could help balance the economic and ecological values of land. Include bonuses for larger areas and proximity to other wilderness land and allow limited biomass harvesting while keeping the tax status and you might even make wilderness profitable. I am no economist so these are just musings on my part.

2:13 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

Yes biomass energy can become a huge contributor to the energy equation without doing ecological damage to the wilderness and without sacrificing cropland.

One of the objects of this blog is to demonstrate over time that such responsible biomass/bioenergy is not only possible but very likely to occur.

I always want to emphasize that biomass/bioenergy is a local and regional solution to local and regional problems. Decision making and a large part of the investment and income should occur on a local and regional basis.

6:51 PM  

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