Solar vs Ethanol  

Posted by Big Gav

Energy Bulletin has just published two articles on renewable energies - the first, Thermodynamics of the Corn-Ethanol Biofuel cycle, says that ethanol production from corn is basically useless and declares that solar is far more efficient and cost effective.

The second, Worldwide capacity of solar thermal energy greatly underestimated, says that solar is already a major energy source world-wide and still has considerable potential.

Not everyone agrees with this view of ethanol though - this article "Is ethanol energy-efficient ?" quotes the US Department of Agriculture and says that "ethanol contains 34% more energy than is used to grow and harvest the corn and distill it into ethanol". No doubt there is a fair amount of politics involved, so its hard to be sure exactly where the truth of it is.

2 comments

Big Gav, you've obviously confused ethanol and biodiesel. Ethanol is made from corn alcohol, biodiesel is made from vegetable OIL (most commonly soy beans, mustard seed, or waste oils). Biodiesel has been shown to have the highest return on energy investment of any fuel. You might want to understand the basics of biofuels and their production crops before posting such things.

A 1998 D.O.E. and U.S.D.A. full lifecycle emissions study found that for every 1 unit of fossil energy needed to make biodiesel, 3.2 units of energy are gained. In contrast, it takes 1.2 units of fossil resources to produce 1 unit of petroleum diesel.

Yes - I did confuse ethanol and biodiesel - I've altered the title so it matches the articles.

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