by Ellie McCutcheon
Let’s use plants for fuel. Sounds nice, right?
Gasoline and diesel are made from plants, but they use plants and animals that have been buried and decomposing for millions of years, says National Geographic. That’s why these types of energy-producers are known as ‘fossil’ fuels. The two problems are—(1) they produce a lot of carbon and (2) they’re being depleted much faster than they’re being made.
That’s why many researchers like the idea of biofuels—energy sources made from organisms grown today. Hey, sustainability! Sounds like you have something coming your way!
But we’re not quite there yet.
Cost. This whole money thing… it’s kind of getting in the way. The thing is, we haven’t yet figured out a highly-efficient method of getting energy from biomass. The US Navy recently launched a fleet of ships they’re calling the “Great Green Fleet” that ran on biofuels. The biggest problem: each gallon costs $27. That’s mighty steep compared to the $4 costs per gallon of oil these days.
More research is needed to raise the efficiency and lower the costs of biofuels. Oil prices are rising and rising and rising. Just see for yourself.
So biofuel isn’t ready for mass consumption yet. We’ve seen that with the Great Green Fleet (they have been at the wrong end of a LOT of criticism, but have also been defending their ships). But our dependency on disappearing oil increases at alarming rates, and so does its cost. The Navy developed the Greet Fleet to improve our energy security, but by people asking: at what cost???
Here are the players, take your pick:
(1) skyrocket high investment in biofuels potentially leading to cheaper, more sustainable energy in the long run? OR (2) remaining sickeningly dependent on oil?