Bye or Buy Biofuels?

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.

Image

U.S. Navy’s Great Green Fleet runs partially on biofuels.. for a whopping $27 a gallon.
Image courtesy of Google Images

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?

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5 thoughts on “Bye or Buy Biofuels?

  1. michaelbenjaminkatz says:

    Great post!
    How do we know though that biofuel will ever be cheaper than oil, especially since it costs over 500% more.

  2. I loved learning about the “Great Green Fleet!” How fascinating. Should the government be concerned with making sure the military is green or the rest of the country is green? If biofuels are 7 times the cost of oil are the long term benefit worth it? If it helps slow the affects of climate change then price might be a worth while sacrifice. great post! certainly kept my attention.

  3. caseywestonwood says:

    Ellie, your writing style came across in such a way that I felt Dazzled, just like the piece. You ask thoughtful questions. One counter I can think of would behow would that fuel be supplied in active battles. However that is far down the lineand hopefully not within our future. With that said your piece is engaging, informative and intelligent!!

  4. esoser says:

    I was interested to learn that the military has at least some vested interest in using greener energy sources. My major concern with this change though, similar to Chanelle’s question, is that we as a country are not focusing attention on becoming greener as a whole–but if we had to start somewhere I guess the military is as good as any other place.

  5. Hi Ellie,

    Nicely done! The flow and style of your writing is consistent, clear, and engaging. The post complements your video well. I wish you had included 1 of the graphics from the video, though, to visualize your point. Good use of sources. Don’t forget to include your twitter handle at the bottom.

    ~Melissa

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