Despite the challenges, blending of ethanol in gasoline continues to be practiced in the U.S. and will likely continue to become a larger part of our fuels infrastructure. There is a lot of rationale behind this approach, which is why it is a part of our biofuel policy and our strategic development in the domestic energy industry. The government has mandates on bioenergy production and use, tax breaks to encourage the use of biofuels, and monetary support in biofuel R&D through tax breaks and direct spending. Governmental investment in biofuels also encourages more private investment in this area.
Carbon credits are probably in the future. The bottom line is it doesn’t matter what you burn, you are releasing CO2. Whether you burn coal, gas, or biomass, you are still burning stuff and as a result the fairest way to regulate emissions resulting largely from burning is a carbon tax. People that grow biomass should be able to sell carbon credits and people that burn carbon should have to buy carbon credits. This avoids a mess of complicated and subjective methods of deciding whose carbon is worth what to who. As climate change begins to get more interesting and the logic of carbon credits sets in, this is probably something we will see in the future and burning biofuels will require purchasing carbon credits just like burning coal.
Bioenergy gets a disproportionate level of attention in the media and in politics. Some believe this is because it is finally starting to achieve some legitimacy and some believe this is because it is a mistake. The available data would suggest that bioenergy gets more attention than it deserves. Bioenergy is growing and it is accepting government help to grow, but fossil fuels needed that as well back in the early 1900s and have continued to enjoy it for the better part of 100 years. Oil pipeline and oil refining technology would not be as advanced as it is today if not for considerable government investment in the research and infrastructure that was necessary. Considering the US fuel paradigm, it is surprising that increasing the supply of domestic fuel comes under such attack at times.
If you are interested in receiving the written slide notes for each lecture, please contact the USDA supported Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest project at; [email protected]
An associated online E-campus course is also offered at Oregon State University; ecampus.oregonstate.edu/soc/ecatalog/ecoursedetail.htm?subject=BRR&coursenumber=350&termcode=all
Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Competitive Grant no. 2011-68005-30407 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
This series contains 25 short lectures, each between 10 and 15 minutes long. The content in these lectures is flexible and can be used in a variety of ways to communicate bioenergy concepts to audiences from diverse backgrounds. An important objective of this series is to present facts about bioenergy and biofuels, and use them to explore misconceptions.