at the Citizen Power Alliance 2010 Wind Conference
Obama's Biofuels Insanity
Barack Obama’s biofuels insanity continues. And it continues without any regard for history, basic arithmetic, or the recent spike in food prices. Last month, the Farm Foundation a centrist non-profit group based in Illinois, released a study which named biofuels as one of the key factors that is driving up grain prices. That study, done by three agricultural economists from Purdue University, is the seventeenth report that has exposed the link between increasing biofuel production and higher food prices.
And yet – and yet -- on Tuesday, the White House put out a press release announcing that the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, and Navy will “invest up to $510 million during the next three years” to develop “advanced drop-in aviation and marine biofuels to power military and commercial transportation.”
The Obama administration’s mindless devotion to biofuels beggars basic arithmetic, a point that Energy Secretary Steve Chu refused to acknowledge when I spoke with him briefly during a cocktail party in Colorado in late June. Chu claimed that biofuels could still provide a significant hedge against oil prices. When I argued that he had done the math, Chu responded by telling me that I just wasn’t putting enough faith in technology.
I’m not doubtful about the ability of technology to improve our lives, but I am certain that neither Obama nor Chu are able to change the laws of physics. The problem with biofuels -- of whatever type -- is their pitifully low power density, that is the amount of energy flow that can be harnessed from given unit of area, volume, or mass. Even the best-managed tree plantations can achieve power densities of only about one watt per square meter. For comparison, a marginal natural-gas well has a power density of about 28 watts per square meter.
posted by CITIZEN POWER ALLIANCE at 8:25 AM - permanent link
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