Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ethanol in the news

Ethanol is picking up a lot of steam now. It is difficult to not find articles on the subject.

Ford is calling on the US to push toward renewable energy sources. No wonder it has been a bit cold here lately.

Ford VP calls for integrated push toward renewable fuels
And Ford is rolling out a hybrid ethanol vehicle, which brings together two up and coming technologies.

A great quote from the article:
"It is clear the solution to America 's energy challenges will need to come from advances in fuels and vehicle technology. The fact is, without the whole-hearted involvement of the oil industry, we cannot move forward far enough and fast enough," said Sue Cischke, Ford vice president of environmental and safety engineering. "We obviously need key partners like the oil industry to invest in developing and marketing renewable fuels, like E85."

Of course some countries are feeling the pain since there is an increased demand for ethanol. Brazil is moving towards a huge ethanol economy but the surge in demand has raised prices there. Due to this, there is an expected decrease in sales for flexfuel vehicles. They might only make up 60% of total vehicle sales this year. Link here.

Meanwhile, Congress critters who do not understand market conditions and fail to see what is ahead for oil companies are moving towards doing some permanent harm to the oil industry. Yes, the oil industry is seeing record profits. However, they are unable to fill their reserves back to where they need to be. Why? Running out of areas where they can pump oil domestically. China is still buying a shit load of oil up and has announced that the country will start their own strategic stockpile of oil. Therefore, these big ass profits are going to go towards finding new areas, updating technology in order to increase the amount of recoverable oil, and stock buy backs. If Congress steps in and changes the rules on them, expect oil prices to soar once the oil reserves (privately owned, not our strategic supply) take a big plunge this winter.

The end of the article that I linked has the following on Ethanol:

Tillerson said the U.S. should stop subsidizing ethanol as a gasoline component and let market forces determine whether the grain-based additive is viable. Ethanol, a form of alcohol distilled mostly from corn and sugar, is blended into about a third of U.S. gasoline because its high oxygen content reduces air pollution and improves engine performance.

Tillerson said refiners would find ethanol unprofitable without the federal subsidy, which amounts to 51 cents this year for each gallon of ethanol blended into gasoline. Exxon Mobil, the world's biggest gasoline producer, uses almost 10 percent of the ethanol produced in the U.S.

The federal government first introduced ethanol subsidies in 1978. Last year, Congress passed a law requiring the oil industry to almost double ethanol use in gasoline by 2012.

Indiana is getting another bio-plant. ...would include a $100 million soybean processing plant, an 80 million gallon biodiesel plant and a 100 million gallon ethanol plant.

Team Ethanol is prepping for the 2006 Indy race year.

Yay for capitalism! A group of farmers in New Jersey are pooling resources in order to buy a factory in Bridgeton (not too terribly far from my old stomping grounds) and build their own ethanol plant.

Ford says we need to build more E85 pumping stations. Currently there are around 600 stations that provide ethanol blends and about 170,000 that do not. Just as Congress is about to do harm to the oil industry, they are going to shoot themselves in the foot over this one. Look an infrastructure is needed for ethanol delivery. You (the oil and gas industries) have the ability and, if you jump on at the right moment, have the potential to make some $$$$. We will still need oil and gas for a lot of other applications and other vehicles (not to mention it will take decades for the non ethanol vehicles to go away and they never will completely). Yes, this is going to suck and things will be terrible for a bit but you will find other ways to make money. Or go out of business. yay for capitalism again.

Now for their side (and an awesome point well made by the oil people):
A spokesperson for the American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for big oil companies, said it costs $200,000 to install an E85 pump and separate underground tank for the fuel.

That is a large investment for a product that does not have a guaranteed market, the spokesperson said. The API also points out that while most service stations carry a certain brand of gasoline, they are not owned by the oil company that makes it.

Ill.: Ethanol-plant meeting draws much public input They also questioned how a plant that uses corn to make fuel would affect area wells because it would use 800 gallons of water a minute and, at the same time, release 80 gallons of water into the ground.

Secretary of ag, administration vying for input into farm bill
Renewable fuels will play an important role in the next farm bill debate, he said. “With fuel prices at $1.20 a gallon, ethanol made little sense for Texas,” he said. “But at $2 a gallon, it’s a viable enterprise.”

Investing in Renewable Energy
This year, thousands of gas stations are expected to start selling the E-85 ethanol blend fuel, meanwhile the popularity of hybrid cars continues to grow.

Construction Begins On Hawaii's First Ethanol Plant When the state requirement for 10 percent ethanol in gasoline kicks in April 2, it will create an instant demand for about $40 million of ethanol a year.

Work resumes at RES Turning turkey byproduct, grease, and other assorted nasty items into bio-fuel. And it looks like they might turn a profit. Now if they can just deal with the odor issue. Appel said some of the fuel produced at the plant is used for heating at Fairview Greenhouse in Carthage. He said the plant is working on a fuel mix that can be used by the Carthage Water & Electric Plant.

Renewable energy at water and electric places? Not a new thing. Solar panels and other assorted sources (even hydrogen) have been used here and there. The trick is to find what will work with today's technologies and tomorrow's as well.