Tim Brown writing in his Analyse That column in the Manuwatu Standard looks at the prospects for biofuel production.
An excerpt: (read in full here)
“Most of this fuel, now known as Grassoline, will come from agricultural residues such as corn stalks, wood waste and weedlike energy crops which will grow on contaminated soil which they clean as they grow. It is estimated that by using such sources, the US can replace half its consumption of oil without affecting food supplies.
“There is no shortage of these bio wastes once the conversion technology is perfected. However, this must compete economically, at the pump, with conventional petrol. The US has almost capped its ethanol production from corn, but cellulose-derived ethanol could last forever.
“Cellulosic biofuels offer the most environmentally attractive and technologically feasible alternative to oil. The feedstocks which could be used are cheap (about US$10 to US$40 a barrel of oil energy equivalent) and abundant, and do not interfere with food production.
“Projections estimate that the global supply of cellulosic biomass has an energy equivalent of 34 billion to 160 billion barrels a year. These numbers, even at the bottom of the estimate scale, exceed the current annual world consumption of 30 billion barrels of oil.”