Blog: Ethanol - you mean there's a downside?
Dave Leggett | 10 August 2006
There's a tendency for journalists to be a bit gooey eyed over the use of ethanol fuel in automobiles. It's understandable. We're talking, after all, about a fuel made from plants and that is CO2 neutral - it sounds too good to be true, especially when you consider how things are going in the volatile world of the black stuff ('Peak Oil' anyone?).
Brazil is usually held up as the shining example of a place where ethanol is manufactured and used in cars. It is certainly right that we should pay a little more attention to biofuels and look at what is happening down there. Of course we should.
But it's not all good news. One issue is how much land would have to go over to cultivating the crops that can create the fuel, if it is going to be manufactured in serious quantity locally. Ethanol from wood pulp in sparsely populated Sweden is one thing, but we don't have a great deal of space for additional sugar beet production in England (and if you ship the fuel in from Brazil, that's just a little self-defeating on the CO2 front).
And down in Brazil it would seem - click below link - that there is not universal praise for how the ethanol manufacturing industry has been developed and the consequences of going down the ethanol path.
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