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Posts tagged “biofuels”

By Robert Rapier on Apr 20, 2007 with no responses

Democrats Plan to Reverse Tax Break

As someone said to me just now by e-mail, “It ain’t about the fuel… it’s about a piece of the pie.” Democrats Plan to Reverse Tax Break for ConocoPhillips, Tyson April 20 (Bloomberg) — Democrats in Congress plan to reverse an Internal Revenue Service ruling that allowed ConocoPhillips and Tyson Foods Inc. to benefit from a tax break for producing alternative energy. If adopted, the legislation would threaten a joint venture announced this week by ConocoPhillips and Tyson to produce diesel fuel from animal fat. ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Jim Mulva said the companies wouldn’t proceed if they didn’t qualify for the tax credit, worth $1 per gallon of renewable diesel produced. “It’s not profitable without the $1 tax credit,” Mulva… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Apr 18, 2007 with 1 response

The Biodiesel Lobby Cries Foul

Let me be clear that I strongly support biodiesel. It has a better energy return than does corn ethanol, and diesel engines are far more efficient than gasoline engines. Each gallon of biodiesel displaces far more fossil fuel than a gallon of ethanol. Therefore, I am much more in favor of biodiesel production than I am of corn ethanol production. I am also not opposed to subsidies directed at giving alternative fuels a boost. (However, in order to avoid picking technology winners, I think a better system would be to boost carbon taxes on fossil fuels. That would mean all alternatives competed on equal footing). So, I was quite pleased to read the announcement yesterday of the collaboration between Tyson… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Mar 27, 2007 with 8 responses

The Logistics Problem of Cellulosic Ethanol

Update: This article got a mention in today’s Wall Street Journal Energy Roundup. ————————– In my essay Cellulosic Ethanol Reality Check, I identified several big challenges that must be addressed before cellulosic ethanol is commercially feasible. One of these is the logistics problem, and a recent story in the Omaha World-Herald emphasizes the point: The future is not now for biomass ethanol industry The article describes the logistics challenges for a single ethanol plant: The logistics of collecting and storing a million tons of corn stubble each year for an ethanol refinery are mind-numbing. It would take 67,000 semitrailer loads to haul the baled stubble out of the field. That’s 187 truckloads a day, or one every eight minutes. To… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 23, 2007 with no responses

My Reaction to the State of the Union

I think it’s great to set ambitious goals. It’s true that if you set stretch goals, but fall a bit short, you still probably did OK. But it is also important to set goals that have a reasonable chance of success, especially when the consequences of falling short are high. In President Bush’s State of the Union address tonight, he called for a 20% reduction in our gasoline consumption in the next 10 years. That’s a noble goal, and one that I fully support. For this goal, President Bush deservedly received a standing ovation. In fact, a 20% reduction would still have the U.S. using significantly more energy than the average European (we currently use about double the energy of… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 21, 2007 with no responses

Key Questions on Energy Options

A question was recently posed to me: What is the most important question concerning ethanol production? That got me to thinking about important questions regarding not only ethanol, but all of our energy sources. There are a number of issues that we must carefully consider for any of our potential energy sources. In my opinion, they are: 1. Is the energy source sustainable? 2. What are the potential negative externalities of producing/using this energy source? 3. What is the EROEI? 4. Is it affordable? 5. Are there better alternatives? 6. Are there other special considerations? 7. In summary, are the advantages of the source large enough to justify any negative consequences? For the purposes of this essay, I want to… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 23, 2006 with no responses

Ethanol, Biodiesel, and Food Prices

The following story from Bloomberg caught my eye today: Ethanol Drives Up Food Commodity Prices Some notable excerpts: Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) — Global ethanol production is driving up prices for food commodities, from feed stocks such as sugar, to meat, said Datagro, Brazil’s biggest sugar-industry forecasting firm. U.S. production, forecast to increase more than 70 percent by 2012, will use 37 percent of the country’s current corn supply to meet output needs, up 15 percent from 2006, Datagro said. Land for soy oilseeds is increasingly being diverted to grow corn, reducing soy supply and driving up animal feed prices, according to the company. In China, competing demand for corn from the food and ethanol industries may lead the country to… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 16, 2006 with no responses

Who Supplies the Most Biofuel?

I learned something interesting today. If you had asked me who is the world’s largest distributor of bio-fuels, I would have probably guessed ADM. It looks like I might have been wrong. Here is a press release that came across my desk today: Shell and Codexis to Explore Next-Generation Bio-Fuels HOUSTON and REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Nov. 16 /PRNewswire/ — Shell Oil Products US, a subsidiary of Shell Oil Company, and Codexis Inc., a privately held biotechnology company, announced today they would launch a collaboration to explore enhanced methods of converting biomass to bio-fuels. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. “Shell is committed to leading the development of second-generation bio- fuels that offer lower well-to-wheel CO2 production and enhanced performance,”… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Sep 27, 2006 with no responses

Ammonia and Biofuels

The following is a guest post by Dave Bradley, who has some very good technical essays on wind power here. Dave introduced himself to me via e-mail several months ago, and after exchanging a few e-mails in which we covered many technical issues, it became clear that we share a number of very similar interests. One of Dave’s essays that caught my attention involved the very interesting idea of using excess wind power to make methanol, ethanol, or even ammonium nitrate fertilizer. But Dave doesn’t just throw an idea out there; he gets into the important technical details. I mentioned this paper in my essay on Compressed Air Energy Storage. Dave explains in the following essay how we could use… Continue»