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View Diary: We'll run out of beer before we run out of oil (281 comments)

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  •  You make a valid point (0+ / 0-)

    which is that it would make sense to spend our last oil resources to build another sustainable energy source. The problem here is that we are working aon a solution (ethanol) which requires a continued input of non renewable energy to provide its own energy, thus is not very sustainable).

    You point, put towards solar, or wind, or even nuclear, makes a lot more sense.

    •  is that true... (1+ / 0-)
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      Jerome a Paris

      The problem here is that we are working aon a solution (ethanol) which requires a continued input of non renewable energy to provide its own energy, thus is not very sustainable).

      Currently, it uses non-renewable energy.  But, I have not heard what part of that non-renewable energy cannot be replaced by renewable energy.  If the non-renewable energy used to produce ethanol today can be replaced by renewable energy then the argument is a red herring. I can think of 4 energy inputs to growing anything:

      1. Sun
      1. Fuel to run machines
      1. Electricity
      1. Fertilizer.

      1 is renewable.
      2 can be renewable.
      3 can be renewable

      4 is the only question mark. Depending on whether the non-renewable is used for energy in which case it definitely can be replaced with renewable. Or, if it is a raw material input in which case their might be a problem.

      Then, add in the energy needed to convert the biomass to usable fuel if these are less than the energy gained from the resulting fuel it works, otherwise it does not.

      Note also it may actually still be useful even if the total energy out is exceeded by the energy in because ethanol is a good form of portable energy.  For example: the fertilizer plant and ethanol plant get their energy input from photovoltaics.  But, the total energy input to grow the feedstock and convert it to ethanol is say 110% of the ethanol energy, but the contribution of the photovoltaics is 50% of the total energy.  Then, it may still make sense to give up the 10% in order to get a form of energy that is portable.  Basically, ethanol would be like hydrogen, an energy storage medium rather than an energy source.

      Either way there is still the issue of wasted photosynthesized energy in the form of stalks, leaves and roots.  Plus it is much more interesting to use our best soil for food not fuel.  What you really want to use is something that grows in poor soil or none at all and pretty much does nothing but convert H20, CO2 and Sunlight into Carbohydrates and O2.

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