NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Peak Oil Update: Alternative sources cost more energy

This audit was long overdue:
Turning plants such as corn, soybeans and sunflowers into fuel uses much more energy than the resulting ethanol or biodiesel generates, according to a new Cornell University and University of California-Berkeley study. Natural Resources Research (Vol. 14:1, 65-76).

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.
Though it was not in this study, the production of hydrogen, consumes more energy than it produces as well. It looks like we are stuck with oil for the near term, until we produces enough nuclear energy to make low cost hydrogen feasible.

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