Are Biofuels Becoming Commercially Viable?

The argument for and against biofuels in the United States has raged back and forth for years. On the one hand, there are people who shout that one should never turn food (typically corn) into fuel. On the other hand are people shouting back that oil won’t go on forever, and they need to find a viable solution now before it’s too late. However, both sides of the argument in America are quickly being ignored. The reason for that is because biofuels have outgrown the argument, and are quickly becoming commercial industries all over the world rather than just in the first world.

The Country’s Needs

Because of advances in technology it’s become possible to create biofuels out of a wider variety of products than just corn. Fuel additives can be made from palm oil, ethanol can be strained from used vegetation, and it’s possible to make fuel from hemp as well as from algae. These are just a handful of the potential solutions. While it might have been Europe and America that took the first, pioneering steps into the idea of biofuels, the rest of the world has left them behind while searching for their own solutions.

The result of this search is that different countries have adapted different solutions based on what is plentiful in their areas. For instance, countries in South America are focusing solutions on the natural products that come out of the rain forest, while companies in Indonesia are looking to the solutions that abundant supplies of palm oil might yield. There is no reason to have a single type of biofuel for the entire world when there are different solutions readily available on so many different countries’ doorsteps just waiting to be utilized.

Sustainability Is Key

When it comes to biofuels and whether or not they’re commercially viable, the keyword is sustainability. This is the reason that the arguments can get so polarized in the United States; so many people view biofuels as either food or fuel. If biofuel was being made from algae, or from witch grass, there would be no argument because the places those plants grow are not the places that one can grow food. Or, take it a step further, if biofuels could be made from something that was generally considered a waste product, then they would be embraced as a way to reduce waste and to recycle even more. Provided that enough of it can be made to meet the demand.

The viability of a biofuel as a solution depends on how much of it a population needs. In parts of Europe where it is more common to take public transportation or to walk, where the need for any fuel will be lower, then a given solution might be quite viable. That same solution may not work in America, where there are huge spaces and where transportation is largely an individual responsibility. However, just because a solution won’t work in one country doesn’t mean another can’t use it.

This post is contributed by Linda Bailey from She is a Texas-based writer who loves to write on the topics of housekeeping, green living, home décor, and more. She welcomes your comments which can be sent to

Thanks, Linda. 

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This Week in Energy News for March 15, 2013

This week in Jetson Green Energy News, London might build a bicycle super-highway, KLM is flying planes with biofuel from old cooking oil, Australia might be reaching solar power saturation, U.S. green car sales are on the rise, Guatamala might get pay-as-you-go solar power, and we have new upcoming green events.

Bicycling in London

London Mayor Proposes £913 Million Cycling Infrastructure Plan

Mayor Boris Johnson wants to create a an unbroken network of bicycle routes and make London a “world-class cycling city,” saying, “The Westway, the ultimate symbol of how the urban motorway tore up our cities, will become the ultimate symbol of how we are claiming central London for the bike.”

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Demand Expected to Increase 7% During 2013

The NPD Solarbuzz Marketbuzz 2013 estimates that the global solar PV demand will increase to 31 GW from 29 GW this year, with China outpacing Germany to become the world’s leading PV consumer.

Will Australia Reach Solar Power Saturation?

A forecast prepared by Sunwiz and Solar Business Services estimates that the Australian solar PV market could grow to 10GW by 2017, leading some to believe that the market is becoming saturated.

KLM to Fuel Tranatlantic Flights with Biofuel

Dutch airline KLM will soon be offering weekly transatlantic flights that are powered by old-cooking-oil-derived biofuels, expanding on its current offerings for travel between New York and Amsterdam.

U.S. EPA Ranks Cities with Energy Star Buildings

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its list of metropolitan areas with the most Energy Star-certified commercial buildings, ranking Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago, New York, and Atlanta in the top five and an increase of 24 percent in certified projects.

Solar Potential is Greater Than Petroleum Productivity in Libya

Research suggests that Libya has a significant, untapped potential for solar and wind power because of its land availability and high levels of daily solar radiation and could become clean-energy independent.

Green Car Sales Increase by 15% in United States

Sales figures of green cars (hybrids, electric, and “green-ish” diesels) for February 2013 show that United States consumer demand for energy-efficient vehicles is on the rise.

Guatemalan Renewable Energy Company to Launch Pay-As-You-Go Solar

Currently raising money for a launch, Quetsol has come up with a way to bring solar energy to the developing world with a pay-as-you-go home solar energy system. Help them reach their goal.

Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 Needs Governor Approval

The Maryland Senate passed the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 that will add incentives to the development of over 200 megawatts of wind power off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland.

New Study Could Change LED Technology

Researchers have discovered a way to mimic the glow of fireflies in application to LED technology and increase performance as much as 55%.

Mark Your Calendars for these Upcoming Green Events

Compostmodern Resilience: DESIGN TO IMPROVE SOCIETY AND THE ENVIRONMENT – March 22-23, 2013 in San Francisco, California
Portland Better Living Show – March 22-24, 2013 in Portland, Oregon
Reclaim + Remake Symposium – April 11-13, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
Future Energy Conference – April 16-17, 2013 in Portland, Oregon
2013 ACI National Home Performance Conference – April 30-May 3, 2013 in Denver, Colorado
Tenth Annual AltBuild Expo: Alternative Materials and Design Expo – May 10-11, 2013 in Santa Monica, California
Pacific Coast Builder Conference (PCBC) 2013: The Art, Science + Business of Housing – June 5-6, 2013 in San Diego, California

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The Month in Review: January 2013

Here are some of the top stories in eco news for the month of January, 2013.

Fiscal Cliff Deal in United States Extends Biofuel Incentives

In Green Car News, the United States Senate signed off on a budget agreement that was designed to avoid the “fiscal cliff” and has been the center of debate. For the biofuel industry and green vehicle proponents, the good news is that biofuel initiatives from the 2008 Farm Bill will be extended, which should help to save jobs and reduce dependency on foreign oil.

Transocean Agrees to Pay $1.4 Billion in Fines and Penalties for 2010 Oil Spill Disaster

The United States Department of Justice announced that Transocean had agreed to pay civil and criminal fines and penalties for its part in the 2010 oil spill disaster, Deepwater Horizon, under a federal court settlement.

Warren Buffet Makes Solar Energy Deal

Two California SunPower solar photovoltaic power plant projects have been acquired by Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company for over $2 billion, adding to its solar energy portfolio that includes the 550-megawatt Topaz Solar Farms in San Luis County, California and a 290-megawatt solar power plant in Yuma, Arizona.

Winners Announced for 2013 Green Car Technology Award

The Mazda SkyACTIV was awarded the winner of the 2013 Green Car Technology Award at the Washington Auto Show on January 31, 2013. Nominees that were recognized in Green Car Journal  as the ‘Top 10 Green Car Technologies for 2013′ included Fiat MultiAir; Fisker EVer Powertrain; Ford Auto Stop-Start, EcoBoost, and Energi technologies; Honda Eco Assist; Mazda SkyACTIV; Nissan Easy-Fill Tire Alert; Tesla Powertrain; and Toyota RAV4 EV Powertrain.

U.S. Green Building Council Lists Top 10 States for LEED

Based on 2010 U.S. Census data, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) annual list of the top 10 states for new LEED certifications in 2012 includes regions that are transforming buildings and communities across the country. Washington, D.C. takes the number one spot, followed by Virginia, Colorado, and Massachusetts.

Los Angeles Deploys LED Street Lights to Save Millions

The Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting published an update on the status of a project aimed at converting street lighting to energy efficient LEDs. The report states that 114,067 units have been replaced, which will result in $5,325,793 electricity savings per year, a savings of 63.3% over the high-pressure sodium (HPS) street lights.

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