Friday, January 18, 2013

Corn based ethanol is anything but good fuel option

The popularity of corn ethanol in United States started with the president Bush back in 2005 when the energy bill mandated that 4 billion gallons of renewable fuel be added to the gasoline supply in 2006. This number has increased to 7.5 billion in 2012.

Why so much emphasis on corn based ethanol? For starters, U.S. wanted to reduce its heavy dependence on foreign fuel import by adding more ethanol to the gasoline supply. Second, ethanol was also seen as the fuel option connected with significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions as this is the case with gasoline.

However, there are some major downsides of corn ethanol making it anything but a good alternative fuel option. The increased corn ethanol production presents a real threat to global food supplies and could lead to major increase in food prices. This because food stocks are turned into fuel which leads to their decline.

In 2010 fuel ethanol consumed 40 percent of U.S. corn production, and when you take into account that United States produces close to 40 percent of the world's corn, it is really no surprise that U.S. ethanol production had major negative impact on corn prices across the entire globe.

The increased production of ethanol in United States has affected global corn prices.

From the moral point of view, using food to produce fuel, is anything but moral, especially when you consider that there are around one billion hungry people in the world. Even from the climate change point of view, corn produced ethanol isn't the miracle solution that will halt further climate change impact.

The several recent studies have concluded that corn ethanol has very small if any effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions with some studies even coming to conclusion that it may actually (under certain scenarios) increase them.

To conclude, ethanol (as well as other biofuels) could be considered acceptable fuel only if it is not being produced from food crops. This means that money thrown into biofuel research must be used to find cost-effective ways of producing biofuels from other sources, such as waste or algae.