Potential for Large Scale Ethanol Production Essay

Potential for Large Scale Ethanol Production Essay

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Potential for Large Scale Ethanol Production



Recent legislation by the Congress of the United States has created a mandate for 5 billion gallons of renewable fuel (notably ethanol) to be consumed annually by 2015. In light of this recent push for alternative fuels, many different biomass solutions have been considered to meet the energy need for the 200 million cars on the road. While the most efficient bio-fuels are derived from palm oil and sugarcane, the Unites States has begun to focus on the more regional corn crops to produce new renewable fuels. This program appears to have great potential towards achieving a sustainable future devoid of foreign oil dependence, until the economic implications of large-scale ethanol production are considered. With that said, it’s important for the United States Government to understand the relative inefficiency, environmental, and social cost of large-scale ethanol production in the US.

Ethanol is a fuel grade form of alcohol that is produced from grain fermentation to create a clean, burnable oil alternative (Heinberg, 171). On a small scale, ethanol production appears to be a practical form of energy for farmers, but is limited by its lack of production facilities and unfavorable energy returned on energy invested. Ethanol has an extremely variable EROEI according to several net energy analyses. Cornell professor David Pimentel found a 29% net loss of energy after conducting two independent tests. Both studies found that, “the fuel cost more energy to produce than it eventually delivered to society.” (Heinberg, 173) While this study painted a negative picture for ethanol production, a USDA researcher recognized as much as a 77% energy profit; although, a ...


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... farmers needs.



Works Cited



Evans, Michael K. The Economic Impact of the Demand for Ethanol. Chicago, IL: Diane Co., 1997. 2 Apr. 2007 .


Hebert, Joseph H. "Study: Ethanol Won'T Solve Energy Problems." USA Today. 10 July 2006. 2 Apr. 2007 .


Hirsch, Tim. "Brazilian Biofuels' Pulling Power." BBC. 8 Mar. 2007. 2 Apr. 2007 .


Pica, Erich. "Power Politics: Linking Congress, Campaign Contributions and Energy Policy." Friends of the Earth 6 (2003): 1-2. 2 Apr. 2007.


Segelken, Roger. "Ethanol." Health and Energy. 2 Apr. 2007 .

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