Sunday, September 25, 2005

Howard regime makes biofuels go backwards: "Ethanol use in Australia has fallen from 75 megalitres in 2002-03 to a projection of only 23 megalitres in 2005-06, a drop of 70 per cent in two years. It now accounts for only 0.1 per cent of the automotive fuel market.

"Ethanol sales have fallen since 2002 when it was revealed
discount petrol stations in Sydney were selling blends with 20 per
cent ethanol, and some manufacturers warned warranties for new cars were not valid if it was used."

Given the magnitude of the energy crisis, it is simply amazing to see that ethanol use has actually fallen by 70% in the last 2 years. Shouldnt biofuels and other renewables source be achieving steady if not dramatic growth? 'Where there is no vision, the people perish.'

The debate on petrol prices in the media and the politicians has been marked by breathtaking shallowness. No one is even attempting to explain to the public the real crisis and the urgent steps that need to be taken.

7 comments:

jeffreyameyer@yahoo.com said...

How much farmland is needed to make Australia independent of petroleum based gasoline? It would take about 9,651,000 acres of irrigated farmland to produce ethanol-precursor crops sufficient to make Australia a 100% ethanol country.

How much irrigated farmland is there currently in Australia? About half of the required 9.6 miilion acres.

So, if half of the australian population dies we will have enough land to produce ethanol for the remaining half - but we'll have no land left over for food production.

The solution seems to be that 75% of australians must die. Then we'll have enough land to produce both ethanol and food for the remaining people.

Didn't the Khmer Rouge try this in Cambodia?

Anonymous said...

You say 'Where there is no vision the people perish' but it would be better to say that 'where there is a biofuels vision the people perish.'

Bernard said...

Jeff & anon:

I realise biofuels cannot replace fossil fuels and am aware some people believe ethanol for example consumes more energy in the making than it derives from its consumption. However renewable energy is desperately needed and production and deployment of biofuels among other sources needs to pick up dramatically, surely.

Big Gav said...

I think biofuels are great when the net EROEI is reasonable (say > 3, as a minimum).

I doubt any Australian ethanol meets this criteria at the moment - but I'd be happy is someone proved me wrong.

I suspect Howard's new found (as of the last couple of days) enthusiasm for ethanol is at least partially releated to his ties to Dick Honan and Manildra.

I think there is some promise in things like the algae-to-biodidesel scheme proposed by the university of New Hampshire, or the "GreenFuels" CO2 -> algae -> biodiesel process.

But in the long run the real solution is solar, wind and tidal electricity generation (with lots of energy storage technology embedded in the grid) fueling an electricity based transportation system.

There is a long way to go before this is a reality though....

Anonymous said...
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Bernard said...

Who knows which mix and proportion of renewable energy will prove the best? One strategy could be to advance rapidly on all fronts (this does not include 'clean' coal or 'safe' nuclear) - the most viable forms will prove themselves over time. Biodiesel from algae extrapolates big numbers from a zero current production. Hopefully it can yield something, in the meantime it cannot hurt to establish a substantial biofuel industry from proven feedstocks.

jeffreyameyer@yahoo.com said...

The best way forward is for the markets to price each type of energy and for consumers to buy the most cost effective form of energy. Eventually, a new form of energy will arise that is more cost effective than petroleum. When it does. People will move to it on their own.

All this talk about subsidizing something else or forcing the price of petroleum up with taxes is nonsense. Those measures are wasteful and wastefulness slows the pace of progress.