07 February 2008

News: Biofuels STILL not the answer

Recent research supports what tech-savvy enviros have known for awhile now: biofuels have alot going for them -- they're cool, easy to understand, easy to engineer and easily integrated into our current car-addiction -- but they are not particularly green. I'll concede that biofuels might be a necessary stop-gap solution, and might at least help decouple the US from the middle east. Unfortunately, the biofuels bandwagon has all the makings of a great political initiative, for the reasons listed above, and is certainly acting to decrease the sense of urgency around the clean energy issue.

The great thing about the research community, though, is that it consists partly of people who like to optimize current solutions (marginally better biofuels, solar power, etc.) and partly of people who like to invent brand-new solutions that will take decades to be ready for scale-up. From a distance, this transition (from re-engineering old energy sources to adopting all new ones) will probably look very neat, the way things do in history texts, but personally I wouldn't mind sitting out the next 30 years or so, which won't look so smooth up close.


Anonymous said...

I heard a show on Friday that was interviewing a bunch of people about biofuels. They called the biofuels that everyone knows about the first generation biofuels. The next gen biofuels are ones that are made by algae. Not sure if it just more hype. I think this was the show: