A seat at the table, or What is Biofuel and why do we need it?

The Law of Conservation of Energy has proven “energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it transforms from one form to another”.

As boring as that might read it actually has a very ironic tone in today’s energy market.

First off, WHAT IS BIOFUEL?!

In short, biofuels are fuels produced from organic materials. They can be solid, gas, or liquid and can come from basic stuff like wood (forestry waste wood), crops (ethanol from Corn/Biodiesel from Soy), and waste materials (cow poop… YUP… COW… POOP).

The biofuel industry has a goal to create an alternative energy market that is cost efficient, responsible, and scalable. Biofuels focus on leaving a smaller carbon footprint on the earth long term. Makes sense?

Those bloody studies…

But while biofuels seem simple, not to mention innovative, the verdict is still not out on them.

Are they actually the answer to the world’s energy problems?

In 2016, data from a team at the University of Michigan Energy Institute in Ann Arbor showed that biofuels might not be what we need.

The study gave reasons why biofuels are still TBD for solving the world’s CO2 emission issues. You should definitely take a read for yourself to gain insights into the research.

But this does NOT mean that there is no chance for biofuels. With every study designed to discredit the growth of the industry a new scientific supporter of biofuels is created.

Support from interesting places…

For example, an article by John Upton of Climate Central shows even geologists recognize that biofuels are a good thing.

“In the long run, there’s no question that biofuels displacing petroleum is a benefit,” said Daniel Schrag, a geology professor at Harvard who advises the EPA on bioenergy climate impacts. His views sharply oppose those of DeCicco. “It’s just a question of how long you have to wait.”

Shrag’s comments are towards the study not taking into account the following:

“Analyses by scientists who have studied the life-cycle impacts of growing corn and other crops to produce ethanol have generally concluded biofuels can create between 10 percent to 50 percent less carbon dioxide pollution than gasoline.

Those estimates have been based on the notion that although bioenergy releases an initial blast of carbon dioxide pollution, the benefits of it accrue over time, as crops, trees, and grass grow and suck that carbon dioxide back into their roots, flowers, and leaves.”

So when it comes to biofuel we have to look for the long-term benefits.

Why do we want biofuel?

If biofuels are better than current energy products why aren’t we always using them? Unfortunately there is no easy answer for that question.

But one question that has an answer is that the public wants more choices. Tensions rising at sites like South Dakota, Mexico, and even West Texas prove that.

So we want biofuels to have a seat at the energy solution table. If not to be the answer to the problem, then they deserve to be a driver for the evolution towards change.

Isn’t it ironic, don’t ya think?…

A scientific law written 174 years ago brings simplicity to the energy transforming debate of the world. If it’s true that “energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it transforms from one form to another” Then transforming the world of energy to a focus on biofuels does seem possible.

-MW