Renewable Fuels May Provide 25% of U.S. Energy by 2025 (JOHN J. FIALKA, November 13, 2006, Wall Street Journal)

A new Rand Corp. study showing the falling costs of ethanol, wind power and other forms of renewable energy predicts such sources could furnish as much as 25% of the U.S.’s conventional energy by 2025 at little or no additional expense.

A second renewable-energy report soon to be released by the National Academy of Sciences suggests wood chips may become a plentiful source of ethanol and electricity for industrial nations because their forested areas are expanding, led by the U.S. and China.

Because use of renewable fuels to replace oil and cut emissions of carbon dioxide is an area on which Congress’s coming Democratic leadership and the Bush administration agree, the studies are likely to hasten efforts to increase production incentives next year, either in a new energy bill or a farm bill.

Cue the folks who reflexively claim there’s no other option but gasoline….

It heats. It powers. Is it the future of home energy?: Residential ‘micro-combined-heat-and-power’ units are efficient furnaces that create electricity. (Mark Clayton, 11/14/06, The Christian Science Monitor)

Factories and other industrial facilities have used large CHP systems for years. But until the US debut of micro-systems in greater Boston, the units had not been small enough, cheap enough, and quiet enough for American homes. Add to that the public’s rising concern about electric-power reliability – seen in a sales boom of backup generators in the past couple of years – and some experts see in micro-CHP a power-to-the-people energy revolution.

“Right now these residential micro-CHP systems are just a blip,” says Nicholas Lenssen of Energy Insights, a technology advisory firm in Framingham, Mass. “But it’s a … technology that … could have a big impact as it’s adopted more widely over the next five to 10 years.”



  1. Brad S says:

    Maybe I’m being silly, but I always though alcohol from wood
    was Methanol. That stuff’s killer toxic and can burn with a
    near-invisible flame, as anyone who ever watched the horror of
    a CART-series race car fire can attest.

  2. Mike Earl says:


    You’re correct that methanol is the typical wood alcohol. However, it is also possible, but more difficult, to make ethanol (from wood or other cellulose); the same technology would work on corn stalks, various grasses, etc. This wasn’t economical until very recently; advances in chemical engineering and biotechnology are close to making it practical today.

  3. jd watson says:

    Because use of renewable fuels to replace oil and cut emissions of carbon dioxide …”
    Will someone please explain how burning something else reduces carbon dioxide emission? (Especially since you must burn more ethanol to have the same energy output as oil.)

  4. Mike Earl says:


    Because the CO2 released was first pulled from the atmosphere when you grew the corn in the first place. The net CO2 production is nill (unless you burned a lot of fossil fuels to grow the ethanol source, and it’s all a big boondoogle, which I suppose is possible, but I’m pretty sure it’s still a net win).

  5. taoist says:

    I don’t think that there’s no other option but gasoline. In fact, I favor the development of alternate energies and more efficient technologies, both of which I think are pretty cool developments. I do, however, think that it’s misleading and backwards to claim that a heavily subsidized fuel source is an advancement just because it’s not a fossil fuel. Especially when gasoline prices are also artificially high because we haven’t drilled or opened any new processing plants in the past 30 years. We’ve been taxing our entire economy with a tax that benefits no one.

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