'Going green' worth it, despite problems

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Going green" is a great idea in theory, but the road to non-fossil fuel energy is fraught with bumps and potholes.

One once-promising plan -- to create ethanol using methane gas produced from cow manure -- ran off the road with the explosion of a boiler in 2007 that helped drive the project into bankruptcy.

Now, however, a private Missouri investment firm wants to reopen the old E3 BioFuels plant near Mead, Nebraska, which used cow manure from a nearby feedlot, as well as corn cellulose, to make biogas to power its ethanol production.

Spectrum Business Ventures Inc. of Kansas City, Mo., plans to reopen the plant next year under the name AltEn Opportunity I.

Proponents say burning methane instead of natural gas or coal cuts the amount of greenhouse gases released into the environment, lowering the plant emissions. In the Mead plant's case, the "output" of 28,000 cattle would be used to produce 25 million gallons per year of ethanol.

The new owners expect to resume production sometime in 2011 after the required permits are obtained.

Of course, the future of ethanol depends on a number of factors, such as the continuation of subsidies and market conditions.

Still, there is merit in any effort to diminish our dependence on foreign oil.

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  • I wonder why people continue to qualify our dependence as on"foreign" oil. The road to energy independence and cleaner air and water with it is to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels of all types. The concentration on "foreign" oil has always sounded to me like advising an alcoholic that they could break their habit by changing brands.

    I believe that only a concerted comprehensive program of conservation in our transport , homes, and other structures combined with the development of alternative sources such as wind and solar energy will ever free us from our dependency on fossils fuels.

    I could not agree more with the last sentence of this editorial, and those merits come in more forms than just the economics of purchasing oil from overseas sources.

    -- Posted by davis_x_machina on Fri, Dec 10, 2010, at 7:54 AM
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    Wasn't the department of energy supposed to do this way back when it was established? During the course of the department of energy hasn't the percentage of foreign oil we've needed continued to increase? That sounds kind of like a massive waste of money to me.

    -- Posted by Damu on Sat, Dec 11, 2010, at 9:40 AM
  • If we want to use less foreign oil why not drill here? Fact is oil is still the easiest, least expensive and most readily available energy source.

    Until other sources are economically viable then they are not cost effective. Fact is huge gubment subsidies are needed to support these energy sources which are inneficent and unreliable. Until technology improves we are going to need oil it's that simple.

    -- Posted by Chaco1 on Sat, Dec 11, 2010, at 10:59 AM
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    @Chaco1 The bigger issues is, oil is a finite resource. There are a number of projections of how long at the Worlds current consumption rate we can continue burning fossil fuels for energy. None of them say we can continue on forever.

    Greener energies are the only way we can conceivably live as we do. Research and development is expensive, you'll get no argument out of me there. However, it is necessary to continue our progression as a species.

    -- Posted by Damu on Sun, Dec 12, 2010, at 12:11 PM
  • I agree that we need to work to develop other energy sources and hydrogen is one of the most promising but not today. Oil is what we have here and now and is what we use, developing our own resources here in the US only makes sense.

    -- Posted by Chaco1 on Mon, Dec 13, 2010, at 9:19 AM
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