Turning Waste Material into Ethanol

Turning Waste Material into Ethanol

  • One more example of how the only real innovations left to be made in the greening of our energy economy is in material science.

  • Clean energy doesn’t have to be as cheap as oil or gas, because the low prices of oil and gas are an illusion — energy consumers don’t have to pay the real cost of these energy sources (yet).
  • Once the playing field is leveled and energy sources are compared under inclusion of all their externalities, ever more high-tech innovation of new materials can be seen as nice but unnecessary.
  • Biofuel producers need to take their best shot using a mix of second-generation feedstocks, and not wait for a hundred years of technological tweaking to “optimize” a moving target that will never be optimized.
  • What if the very first telephone company had dug in its heels and waited for digital communications, fiber optics and handheld transceivers before going ahead with the new technology they’d already developed?
  • The material-science rabbit hole, like the commodity futures risk-hedging rabbit-hole, are looking more and more like delay tactics. We’ve had the technology for second-generation biofuels for decades. The time for delay has already been squandered. If the big energy producers don’t pick up the ball, a practically infinite swarm of tiny, distributed energy producers will pick it up for them.
  • And the more I think about it, maybe that would be best.
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