Skip to comments.World must wake up to the dangers of biofuels, head of Kew Gardens warns (Solution is a problem)
Posted on 09/09/2006 2:53:33 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger
Link Only: World must wake up to the dangers of biofuels, head of Kew Gardens warns
So, now we're back to "Destroying the Rainforest" again, huh?
What's Willie Nelson going to do then? This is his baby.
Radical environmentalists do not care about the environment. They care about reducing capitalism and the human population by any means necessary. One step at a time, and that means hamstringing development.
The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, are awesome, however.
Bio-fuels are political hype enbraced by both parties. One gallon of ethanol requires three gallons of gasoline or diesel to produce.
However, that article didn't point out the fact that certain plants such as sugar cane, sugar beets and switchgrass can produce huge amounts of ethanol on a per-acre basis with minimal land impact, and the development of growing oil-laden algae in vertical tanks fed by the exhaust of coal-fired and natural gas-fired powerplants could mean a massive source of ethanol, too.
Liquefied Coal Cuts Oil Need
China plans to launch a coal liquefaction programme in the next five years to ease the nation's oil shortage.
The State Development Planning Commission is carrying out a feasibility study on setting up coal liquefaction projects in Yunnan, Shaanxi and Heilongjiang provinces, according to a senior official with the commission.
"Experiments have been finished in these three places. The results were desirable, but we have not located the specific site to launch the project," said the official.
Analysts predict that total investment for the project will amount to billions of US dollars with the annual output of 2 or 3 million tons of oil.
Coal liquefaction is the chemical process of adding hydrogen to coal under high temperature and pressure to liquefy coal into crude oil.
"Generally speaking, 2 tons of coal can turn out 1 ton of oil," explained Shu Geping, a senior engineer of the China Coal Research Institute.
Given the fact that the total reserves of coal in China far exceed those of oil, it is desirable to implement the technology to stretch the oil supply, Shu said.
According to Shu, 20 billion tons of the total proven coal reserves can be liquefied into 10 billion tons of oil, sufficient for China's consumption for 50 years.
Thanks to 20 years of hard work and co-operation with developed countries, China has mastered the technology and can perform the commercial operation at a desirable cost, said Shu.
With the coal liquefaction technology, producing 1 ton of oil is 30 per cent cheaper than purchasing oil from the overseas market, Shu added.
"A coal liquefaction manufacturer can recoup their total investment within 13 years," Shu noted.
The systematic research of the coal liquefaction technology dates back to 1910. Since then many countries such as Germany, the United States and Japan have been making great efforts to develop the technology. However, due to the high cost of coal and labour in developed countries, this technology has not been commercialized on a large scale.
But South Africa, whose structure of energy reserves is similar to China's, has established three coal liquefaction manufacturers with total investment of US$7 billion in 1950. In 1999, these manufacturers registered a profit before tax of US$610 million.
"If the government can make some preferential policies, such as cutting down the oil consumption tax and value added tax, coal liquefaction manufacturers can attain more profits than factories in South Africa," Shu said.
China has been a net importer of oil since 1993. It is expected to import 70 million tons of oil this year. (Source: chinadaily.com.cn)
Especially switchgrass, which is native to North America.
Forget the environment; the main thing is cutting off the money supply to the Arabs.
Usually there are complaints about ethanol subsidies. Be aware that the Liquefied Coal folks are lobbying for a $5b sssubsidy to get going and a government price support at $35/bb.
Eventually, we'll have biofuel vehicles that produce even more fuel than they burn and the big problem will be sopping up the alcohol spiled all over the highways.
Well, except Imperial Oil (CAN) -- but that's a whole 'nother story. No American, British, or Dutch company has asked, let me rephrase that.
Coal liquefaction shouldn't NEED a subsidy in the first place. It's fully competitive as long as crude stays above $35/bbl or so. But then again, who says crude will stay that high when alternative production methods come online, eh?
Probably a bit overoptimistic because as it comes on line, if it is large scale it will reduce the price of oil, probably to below the cost of coal liquifaction. More power to them.
Tell that to the Good Ol Boys down in Kentucky who switched their stills over to making ethanol for cars. Fired by waste wood and they turn out many gallons a day.
>>>>One gallon of ethanol requires three gallons of gasoline or diesel to produce.
>>If you research that statement you will find it is one put out by radical environmentalists.
1:3 is pretty absurd. But more sober analyses have shown that it takes more energy from petroleum to make a gallon of ethanol, than you get from the ethanol.
Do not underestimate the power of the ADM/farm lobby, for subsidies.
Not to mention trash/waste to biofuel....imagine biofuel processing plants at each major city dump!
Then ethanol would be more than three times the cost of gasoline adjusted for taxes, say between two to three times the cost of gasoline. Who would buy such a fuel? Something doesn't make sense with this statement.
Th ebottom line is that the end goal of environmentalism is to turn back civilization by thousands of years.
When speaking to environmentalists (and there are legions of them here) I like to ask what would be the ideal "green" community. They generally say something like an African village or a native American village.
These people want us living in the stone age.
I agree. The Arab Muslims are taking our money to fund ways to either kill us or convert us to Islam.
I had rather be dealing with the Russians. For all their dishonesty and other faults, at least they aren't suicidal to try to get to a "paradise" that seems to be some sort of holy whorehouse.
Ethanol isn't now being sold at production cost. It is being sold to produce a market.
In the little berg I live in, premium that is 10% ethanol is being sold cheaper than regular unleaded, by one chain. I ask about the practice and was informed it is being sold at the lower price to help in the development of a market.
Our regular unleaded has 10% ethanol, and that content has been so for years. No market issue I can see here (KY.)
I'm not sure it's unfair to evaluate it the way he's doing with prices as they are before the decision is taken, because that IS the alternative if they don't do the coal project.
South Africa took the position that energy self-sufficiency was good for the country, and guaranteed Sasol, the coal gasifier, something like $20/bbl, to insulate them from the immense downside risk in starting up such a process. An approach like that doesn't seem unreasonable here.
The big breakthrough could be the low-cost conversion of plant cellulose to ethanol. Once we master that technology, that could mean that agricultural waste could be converted to ethanol on a huge scale.
This Polish-American scientist at Berkeley has done an excellent job exposing it:
The environmentalists won't be happy till we're all living like a third world country, starving, naked and dying from malaria. Wait... that's already happening in half the world... Not here... right?
The Saudi cost of production is what -- about $5 a barrel? They've been getting $60-70 a barrel recently, which is a pretty nice margin. They have plenty of room to come down. The question is, how much can the Saudis and other OPEC countries increase production?
In the 1970's the oil price spike was clearly artificial. OPEC threw a switch and cut production. The USA then responded with the most completely counterproductive energy policy imaginable, as we subsidized imports and penalized domestic production on the theory that the main enemy was big oil companies, not OPEC. Stupid is as stupid does, but the dems made successful short term politics out of it, which is all they care about. Ronald Reagan solved the problem overnight by decontrolling oil.
The betting on alternative energy sources today rests on one very big assumption -- that the current runup in oil prices is market driven and permanent. I don't pretend to know the answer to that, but most of the analysts seem to agree that OPEC is now producing near capacity and that the Saudis no longer have have the ability to flood the market, especially with India and China coming on strong.
I frankly hope that's right. I can remember filling the tank for $5 or less, and that was nice, but we can clearly live with an oil price of $40-50 a barrel, or even higher. If today's prices stick we will see a very significant shift in the resource base over 20 years. We will still be burning a lot of oil and/or biofuels (unless we make the necessary breakthroughs on hydrogen fuel cells), but the supply will be much more diversified. I hope I live to see it -- let the sheiks go pound sand.
Especially if we restore the public transport. In rural areas people could use more buses, train, bicycles or horses.
Also a theory being pushed by Big Oil.
Why do you think the price of gasoline has dropped this past week? The price of a barrel of oil has not changed.
Big Oil is attempting to slow down any further plans to construct Biorefineries. Plain and Simple.
round and round we go...
The 1970s price spikes were only artificial insofar as US monetary and regulatory policy was ''artificial'', and, as you point out, idiotic. Remember the background then (and I remember it very well, as a trader and broker in that period). LBJ had just, for the first time, REALLY busted the US budget. Bretton Woods had become untenable, and it was only a matter of time until the US went off gold.
Nixon, the moron, put on domestic wage/price controls to ''combat'' inflation in 1971, and cleverly traded -- as ALWAYS w/price controls -- mkt discipline for shortages. The Saudis, after 20 months of this nonsense, with the dollar declining essentially every day, quite reasonably decided that they would build in an anti-inflation premium. The only thing they did that was stupid (and not a little greedy) was to build in 15 years' premium all at once. Inflation btw, for our historians here, was running at all of 5.2% annually when Nixon went berserk. This would come to seem like a bargain in just a few years.
Then, the December 1972 flap w/Israel came along, with the concomitant embargo, and crude doubled in price again. This would be the ''artificial'' run-up of which you spoke; the rest was due solely and only to US policy lunacy. Actually, Ford's and Carter's policies exacerbated the price situation after that point, which is why we got the second oil shock in 1977-1979.
The magic number in crude is and has been for years the daily worldwide excess production capacity in bbl-equivalents, many times called 'excap'. The ''problem'' with alternative production methods is not that they won't work (some of them have worked perfectly well for decades), is not that their cost is indeterminate (it isn't; it's moderately variable w/in a known range), and not that investors won't put up the capital to get these methods online (they're bloody standing in line to plunk their capital down on these deals).
The problem is this: given the feckless and, as we agree, idiotic track record of the US gov't in past regarding energy, both oil companies and investors are scared spitless of two highly likely outcomes. The first (duh!) is government re-regulation along confiscatory lines, of which we saw entirely too much in the 1970s. This, presumably (haha), can be avoided by a combination of heavy lobbying and harnessing an angry citizenry to threaten the political class regarding the only thing that matters to them, to wit, their power. Summary execution of a number of the radical greenie Marxists would be useful here, too. Won't happen, more's the pity.
The second fear cannot be dealt with readily, or perhaps at all. There is the entirely legitimate fear that, even without gov't screwing around with the energy mkts, alternative production (from shale, from tar sands, from biofuel, from liquefaction, from gasification, whatever) will in fairly short order, say a decade, put enough marginal capacity online to raise the excap figure over, say, 4-5 MM bbls/day. This figure is rising slowly even as I write this, about 1.72 MM bbl/day up from 0.6 this past January. If this occurs -- and it will do if all the alternative players crank it up (not to mention the results of expanded drilling and more discoveries worldwide) -- crude will be in the $20s/bbl without a single doubt in this world, no matter the demand increases from Asia.
Companies and investors who hold shares in alternative production ventures that produce at $35 or so/bbl (see the list above) will in this case be royally screwed. There's no way to make back the original, highly capital-intensive investment in 10 years' time.
This unfortunate situation will lead to one of two outcomes. Either the gov't will pick winners (ok, Shell, you go do your in situ recovery from shale in CO, no, sorry, BPAmoco, we don't want your gasification projects -- that sort of thing) or the gov't will cave in to subsidy demands from all of the above producers, would-be and actual. We've seen the latter outcome before, twice in fact. How's your memory today?
Ethanol is an old story in this regard. The same subsidy addicts that infest D.C. now were around in the 1970s, too. Result: a huge ethanol boom...until one day someone ran the numbers. Result: an even more huge ethanol crash. Whole towns in Colorado were shut down (effectively) on 1 day's notice -- ask any Colorado resident of that day, and you'll hear some amazing horror stories.
The second was, of course, Red Jimmuh Peanut's infamous ''synfuels'' boondoogle, which cost multi-billions and never produced a single drop of broad-market fuel. We'll see a some sort of replay of this at some point shortly, very likely (a dead cert if some lefty gets into the White House in 2008).
Whether the current run-up in price is, as you say, ''market-driven (it is) and permanent (it certainly doesn't have to be)'' is up for grabs. It's finger-crossing time, and the past record of events in energy mkts is sufficient for a good deal of pessimism. Gov't will trade sensible policy for perceived short-term political advantage every single time.
Any thoughts here, gents? FReegards!
Exactly. Which is why they want to artifically supress the price of gasoline.
The price of a barrel of oil hasn't changed from last week, yet gasoline prices continue to fall. To what do you attribute this?
Since Big Oil is beginning to invest in biorefineries, it stands to reason they'd like to discourage others from similar investment.
Absolutely right. And bringing attention to scientific nutcases like the Kew guy (he's a plant specialist and knows nothing about climate!) adds more fuel to the global "warming" fire. There's a worldwide socialist effort to bring attention to any issues that can damage American conservatives prior to November's elections.
They want us to live in caves.
The price of oil has fallen almost continuously for a month.
The price of oil has fallen every day for the past week.
Heck, cows convert plant cellulose to methane now. Let's capture that and kill two birds with one stone: Reduce a greenhouse gas while capturing an energy source! ;-)!
TechCentral did an article on this subject a few months ago...concluded that the environmental footprint of ethanol was not all that clean and green......written by a guy from the Competitive Enterprise Insitute....I respect both organizations.....
What sickens me is that an environmentally friendly and economical solution is there, nuclear, but we refuse to go that way.
I disagree. It's a horrible product. It's expensive, depletes the soil, wastes water, and consumes more energy than it produces. Now that oil and gas prices are high, ethanol refineries are using coal, yes, coal, resulting in even worse pollution than using gasoline in cars. Ethanol is nothing more than a giveaway for parasites like ADM that wouldn't be in business if they couldn't suck the government teat.
Hopefully the new methods of producing the stuff will pan out once a market is established and much of the ag concerns will be moot.
Ain't gonna happen. The first and second laws of thermodynamics will see to it.