Global biofuels: "overall contribution to the renewables picture overlooked."

May 9, 2011 |

In California, “How many New York Times readers would know that global biofuels production is 12 times higher than global wind?” on a BTU basis, asks a Digest reader, even allowing for energy consumed in the production of energy crops and fuels.

It’s true: looking at figures from international authorities, production from ethanol, renewable diesel, biodiesel reached 29.7B gallons, and results in 2.58 quads (quadrillion BTUs) on a gross basis, netting down to 1.46 quads when the energy consumed in production is accounted for.

By contrast, there are 0.126 quads of gross wind energy produced, netting down to 0.1198 quads on a net basis, after the energy consumed in manufacturing is accounted for. Smaller by a factor of 12.

Our correspondent writes, “some pundits even in the renewable energy space consider biofuels to be a failure while continuing to lavish praise on wind and solar.  Leaving aside the obvious argument that electrons are not fungible into oil and thus have a totally different value in use than biofuels, the scale of biofuels and thus their overall contribution to the renewables picture seems to get overlooked, especially by “conventional wisdom”.

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Category: Research

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