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Peaches touted as future fuel source

Part-time farmer Jimmy Griner hopes his ever-so-fragrant, crystal-clear, 180-proof moonshine can help solve the nation’s energy problems.

Griner arrived at the Georgia Bioenergy Conference this week carrying of quart of the stuff in a Mason jar. He’s licensed to make 10,000 gallons a year of the high-octane elixir that’s distilled from fermented Georgia-grown wheat.

Sponsored by the University of Georgia, the three-day conference attracted about 500 farmers, scientists, engineers and politicians. Speakers from across the nation and at least one foreign country, Brazil, discussed the future of global energy supplies, the economics of biofuels, energy legislation and Georgia products that could be converted into fuels…

With almost 25 million of Georgia’s 37 million acres covered with forests, there’s a big push to produce ethanol from pine trees. But experts say the technology for doing it on a commercial scale is still years away.

The state already generates 18 million dry tons of waste wood each year, including limbs and tree tops, Georgia Forestry Commission director Ken Stewart said. The amount of ethanol available from the waste wood alone — 80 gallons per ton — would be enough to replace 18 percent of the gasoline and diesel fuels consumed in the state each year, he said.

After his speech, the governor toured an outdoor display of tractors and trucks powered by ethanol made from Georgia-grown peaches, wheat and pine trees and others powered by biodiesel made from chicken fat, peanuts, cotton seeds and soybeans.
(4 Aug 2006)
Two informed correspondents (including David Pimentel) have recently suggested to us that wood-to-methanol might be more viable than wood-to-ethanol from an Energy Return on Energy Invested perspective, although both come with serious energy costs — David claims wood-to-ethanol is net energy negative. Any biofuel proposal from agriculture, will tend to compete with food production. Biofuels from peaches sounds less like the diabolical plan of a cartoon supervillian than turning catfish into biofuels, but perhaps only by degrees. In an era in which agricultural crises will be accentuated by peak oil, peaches might be much better eaten than used in fuel tanks. Hopefully they are referring to waste-streams. -AF

Gasoline’s fledgling rivals: the race to power your car

Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor
The alternative fuels race is on. Again.

After a 20-year hiatus, ethanol, methanol, biodiesel, electricity, and other potential fuels are pushing to challenge king gasoline at the pump.

So, it’s not clear that any alternative fuel will cross the finish line – let alone beat gasoline – anytime soon. Analysts worry that, in an eerie repeat of the 1980s, alternative fuels will get going just as the price of oil falls to a level where they can’t compete.

Among today’s alternative-fuel contenders, the early leader is ethanol made from corn. “Corn ethanol is the one to beat right now,” says Paul Gallagher, professor of economics at Iowa State University.
(1 Aug 2006)
If corn ethanol is the pick of the biofuels we’re in trouble. -AF

Australia: Opposition U-turn on fuel

Steve Lewis, The Australian
Mr Beazley yesterday signalled Labor’s support for an alternative fuels policy, reversing Labor’s previous criticism of the ethanol industry.

The Opposition Leader adopted a scare campaign against biofuels in the 2001 federal election.

…”The price of oil from the Middle East is going to stay high for a very long time, probably forever. And what we need is an alternative from being hooked on Middle East oil,” Mr Beazley said. “Short-termism won’t work any more.”
(5 Aug 2006)
I couldn’t find reference to the earlier ‘scare campaign’ against biofuels. This statement by the opposition leader from 2005 endorsed biofuels (for better or worse) while implying some awareness of peak oil:

Well these are my questions for Mr Howard.
Does he honestly believe in ten, twenty and thirty years we’ll be able to
source a consistent supply of petroleum at a sensible price with ever
increasing global demand and 57 per cent of the world’s proven oil reserves in
the Middle East?

Does the Prime Minister honestly believe if major disruptions to oil supplies
occur in the decades ahead, we can expect foreign countries to give priority to
supplying Australia’s needs?

Does he honestly believe as we face falling production but higher demand
that prices will not soar?