Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ethanol Schmethanol

Although the title of this post would lead you to believe that I am only going to address Ethanol in my talk today - that is not the case. I want to provide a framework and some numbers for thinking about the environmental trade-offs associated with different ways of producing biofuels. In the end, however, its - ethanol schmethanol. I did a back of the envelope calculation for the cost of removing one ton of CO2 by subsidizing corn ethanol in the US and it is costing taxpayers about $500 per ton of mitigated emissions of CO2.

10 comments:

Matt H. said...

In response to your powerpoint/ speech it can only seem that we need more funding for biofuel research. The more we learn about this stuff, the sooner we can get on the right path to reducing GHG's with the best public benefit!

Benj Fuller said...

It seems to me that this is a witch hunt. The pursuit should be to reduce energy use not to change the energy source. By reducing use we could strike the source of the problem and lower social cost more efficiently. This is a start (I guess) but maybe from the wrong end.

john ferraro said...

I really feel that politicians and the energy companies could care less about the environment and finding viable forms of renewable energy. They are more concerned with their images and appearence that they are trying to solve the enrgy crisis. With all the statistics on ethanol, corn would be one of the last sources used. It is merely in the best interest of the companies to appear like they are trying to find a solution to the problem.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Matt. Putting money towards continued research is prudent. The spot price of a barrel of oil in the powerpoint ($86) is an eye opener. Moving towards energy independence, be it an efficient and environmentally friendly energy source, should be a top goal.
-Patterson

Anonymous said...

I believe that conservation is the best policy. With proper management we could enjoy an equivalent lifestyle with less energy input.

Sean Keneip

Anonymous said...

I think that research is definitely the key to this problem. We don't want to be jump to any conclusions about any alternative until all the options are weighed. The biggest problem with switching from an petro-based life style seems to be the infrastructure. We don't want to jump on the bandwagon of the next big energy source until we are sure its the right choice; switching the infrastructure is way too expensive. i think that ethanol can use our current transpo means, but its obviously not the answer. curbing our energy use (this is going to take education and awareness first of all) is our best bet until the research is in. a prime alternative to switching infrastructure would be an aware public, with every house hold producing their own self-sustaining energy needs on a small, localized basis. now we just need to figure out how to do that.

-238554906 g.r.

Anonymous said...

http://media.www.technicianonline.com/media/storage/paper848/news/2007/09/04/ScienceTech/Tree-Health.Vulnerable.During.Drought-2948541.shtml

a follow up to our question in class on Thursday

leigh h.

Bobby Thomas said...

Since looking at the powerpoint it is easy to see that we should be using sugarcane to make ethanol to get the better benefits, but since the government has such a high tariff on the importation of sugar cane it makes it inpractable for us to use sugarcane. I feel that there is just too much money and politics taking place, and not enough stepping back and looking at the big picture, that being saving our environment.

Bobby Thomas said...

Since looking at the powerpoint it is easy to see that we should be using sugarcane to make ethanol to get the better benefits, but since the government has such a high tariff on the importation of sugar cane it makes it inpractable for us to use sugarcane. I feel that there is just too much money and politics taking place, and not enough stepping back and looking at the big picture, that being saving our environment.

tim b said...

Forgot to comment about your talk in Shew's class. I really enjoyed it. I'm now sold on the idea of a carbon tax. By the way it sparked a week long debate!