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July 07, 2006



Why not let mother nature do the conversion? There is a company in Canada (Iogen Corp.) that has a process to get ethanol from cellulose (like corn stalks and such) The basic process uses enzymes to break down the cellulose into simple sugars that can be fermented to get ethanol. The beauty of the process is that the what is left after the simple sugars are removed for fermentation can be burned to produce the energy to keep the process running. If I understand what the company is claiming correctly they can produce a viable replacement for fossil fuels at a net zero cost in energy terms. Lets all hope this isn't just so much fairy dust.


I'm a long time subscriber to ratewatch - enjoy it. Your comments are dead on regarding energy and water - I feel nuclear is probably one of the best solutions currently available for minimizing environmental impact - especially greenhouse gases. I'm commenting because I think the solution to energy storage and water availabilty are one and the same. You've already identified it - Hydrogen. The technology has been proven for many years in our space program. RO is great, but membranes get fouled and efficiencies go down, an energy consumer. Hydrogen and oxygen yield electricity and water.

lewis cary

I live off the grid (I *was* hoping to be connected by now). I bought 480W (6x80) panels. I measure about 350W actual power. I would love to be totally solar, but do not have the budget to cover my garage roof like 'stars' do in Hollywood. So I make a lot of diesel smoke :) Lew


Isn't this still an issue of basic economics--the relationship of supply, demand, price, and elasticity?
To the extent that we start producing energy from other sources (biofuels, solar, hydro, whatever) the price of oil will fall. Other countries (that have not constructed solar grids as big as half of Nevada) will reap the benefits of lower energy costs. They will increase their energy (oil) use which will negate the environmental benefits of our conversion to solar. In effect, we will subsidize their higher standard of living.

I think the argument for moving away from fossil fuels must be based on dollars and cents -- the cost per kilowatt hour.


You've done an excellent job of explaining and summarizing this issue. I think the main problem is that we are so dependent on non-renewable energy sources that we need an "attitude adjustment" to make us look outside that very limited box!

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