Friday, August 12, 2005
Well, it's looking like the energy bill bucket filled with cash and subsidies has made people look at bio-fuel as a potentially viable market. This is old news out in the mid-west where even my grandfather used blended fuel in his tractors. Finally, now that our innovators and enterprising souls can 'see the money', alternative fuels are starting to emerge here on the Front Porch of America:
- At 12th and Vine Streets this fall, a gasoline station owner plans to start selling two fuels made from plants: ethanol and biodiesel.
In New Jersey, a group of farmers and other investors is on the verge of buying land in Gloucester County to build an ethanol factory. [ed. sure, after we pay for 66% of their solar panels, the now have the cash to invest in other government programs ... ARGH!]And in Kensington, a research-scale facility is under construction that would make biodiesel from the grease of Philly cheesesteaks and other fatty victuals.
- Among other provisions, the measure - signed on a day the price of crude oil hit another high - mandates that refiners sell at least 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel by 2012.
That amounts to a relatively small portion of total U.S. transportation fuel use - currently about 135 billion gallons of gasoline and more than 40 billion gallons of diesel each year - and critics faulted the bill for not requiring carmakers to build more-efficient engines.
- Consumers may not notice much difference. All diesel trucks and buses can run without modification on biodiesel, which is made by chemically treating vegetable oil or animal fats. All new cars can run on gasoline that contains up to 10 percent ethanol, an alcohol fuel made from fermenting sugars from plants, including corn. And, unknown to many owners, more than 3.5 million newer cars can use an ethanol blend of up to 85 percent.
- Straight biodiesel costs up to $1 more per gallon than regular diesel, whose average price nationwide yesterday was $2.41 a gallon, according to the federal Department of Energy. Usually it is blended with regular diesel fuel.
Ethanol prices are generally lower than those for gasoline, in part because of a federal subsidy. Both ethanol and biodiesel result in lower amounts of most kinds of pollution in most situations.
- Philadelphia Fry-o-Diesel is building a research-scale facility in Kensington to produce biodiesel from the smelly goo that collects in traps underneath restaurant parking lots.
"It's a feedstock that we have plenty of in the land of the cheesesteak," quipped Emily Bockian Landsburg, business development associate at the Energy Cooperative, a Philadelphia nonprofit group that owns Fry-o-Diesel.
The current facility will have a capacity of up to 20,000 gallons a year. The goal is to build a for-profit, commercial-scale facility in the city by 2007, with an annual capacity of up to four million gallons, she said.
- Critics say the energy bill does too little to promote renewable and alternative fuels.