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Friday, January 19, 2007

U.S Embraces Clean Energy, But Beware Ethanol

Americans and their political leaders are increasingly embracing clean, renewable energy. But a foremost expert on energy and technology is warning against relying on ethanol as a solution.

Only one in fourAmerican voters today believe the United States is doing enough to promote and utilize alternative or "green" technologies and renewable energy sources to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign energy sources, according to a new poll by Zogby International and TechNet's Green Tech Task Force.

TechNet is a bipartisan political network of high tech CEOs promotes the growth of the innovation economy.

The Zogby/TechNet nationwide poll of 1,043 Americans found that 77% ofU.S. voters believe that our nation must do more to promote green technologies like renewable energy sources.

Wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, hydrogen and alternative fuels are all cleaner energy sources.

"The magnitude of global energy and environmental challenges demandsthat we act now to implement a sound energy strategy based on U.S. innovation," says John Doerr, TechNet founder and partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a leading technology venture capitral firm. "TechNet is committed to working with the president and Congress to reshape our energy future."

Renewable energy has been an area of research in the United States for decades, and maintains a dedicated lab at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado.

Leaders in both parties of U.S. government are also increasingly turning to support clean energy as an alternative to U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Burning fossil fuels is also thought to be a major contributor to the carbon emissions blamed for global climate change.

Democrats who now control the the U.S. House of Representatives have passed a bill that would cut subsidies for oil production and impose a "conservation fee" on oil and gas taken from deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Funds collected would be steered toward renewable, clean energy sources. President Bush is also said ready in his upcoming State of the Union address to further complain of the U.S. dependence on oil and embrace renewable clean energy.

The Danger of Ethanol

However, ethanol will not be an attractive clean- or renewable-energy solution, says veteran Washington correspondent and energy and technology expert Llewellyn King.

Produced from vegetable matter high in sugar or starch and fermented and distilled to produce fuel, the United States already is producing 5 billion gallons of ethanol a year, King notes in his recent syndicated column. For more than 30 years, King published such publications as The Energy Daily and New Technology Week, and observed keenly developments in ethanol and other clean energies. Full disclosure: I used to work for Llewellyn King as editor of New Technology Week.

King, who remains host of the national public affairs TV show "White House Chronicle," says "President Bush is so taken with ethanol that he wants to expand production to 60 billion gallons a year by 2030."

The growing interest in ethanol is affecting the price of corn, driving up the price of meat, King says.

"Last year, there was a shortage of grain for livestock, and beef prices rocketed. Other dislocations are likely when corn becomes the must-grow cash crop," he writes.

Like others, King believes the United States must wean itself from oil and embrace new technologies -- but not ethanol. He suggests hybrid and all-electric vehicles as a better alternative.

"Not only is there something repugnant about using food for gasoline, but in all probability, it will cause damage to the whole agricultural cycle and to the agricultural economy," King writes. "This way lies madness. And it is shameful that so many environmental organizations, led by the Natural Resources Defense Council, have embraced ethanol—which may save no energy whatsoever."

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Blogger Gregory Renfroe said...

It should be clear that Ethanol cannot be the one answer to our energy woes.
Ethanol in fact burns much like petroleum products with many of the same byproducts such as smog, and both carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. The push for alternatively generated energy can be seen in the canyon between Los Angeles and Palm Springs where hundreds of wind turbines are powering much of the needs of the entire city of Palm Springs.
But the true push for independance from our ever greater comuption of oil should be at home. New houses should have an optional upgrade of solar and wind power in their individual residential plot of land.
In the southwest where sun is nearly everpresent rooftops could be used to collect the power of the sun and convert it directly into usable electricity. Photovoltaic power generation is currently in its infancy as far as its efficiency in generating large amounts of power but if the government poured a tiny fraction of its war budget into a collective power system the results would be an overall decrease in the amount of energy having to be generated by burning natural gas, coal or oil.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Scott Nance said...

Thanks for your comment, Gregory. I think it's fair to say that no one single renewable source will solve everyone's energy needs, but that we need to focus on using those renewables that are most efficient for our present situations while continuing R&D on renewables to further develop technology.

Thanks again.


2:38 PM  

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