Friday, March 11, 2011

Affirmative Action for the Green Industry? Part 2

Affirmative Action for the Green Industry? Part 2
Al Ritter

In Part 1 we discussed the use of ethanol and gasoline in a mixture called E85, and today we will talk about energy sources used as fuels (for non-electrical generation). In this group are natural gas, coal, oil, and biomass fuels. To compare all types of these fuels we use BTU (British Thermal Units) to equally describe the amount of energy each produces. Natural gas, coal, and oil are considered fossil fuels and thusly are not considered renewable resources, while biomass fuels are because they are usually made from plant material.

Coal and oil are the top fuels in the world because of their huge abundance, and as we will find out shortly the least subsidized fuel source. Biomass is a, biological material from living, or recently living organisms, such as wood, waste, (hydrogen) gas, and alcohol fuels is the new kid on the block and would include fuel such as a diesel blend made from plant byproducts such as soybean oil, vegetable oils, animal fats etc. Solar energy figures only slightly into the non-electrical fuel source but gets one of the highest subsidies per BTU, (think solar hot water heater,) as in direct heat gain, not to produce electricity.

Because the latest ecological kick subsidies are given to the biomass fuels in record numbers, and not to the most prevalent energy sources. Ethanol and biofuels receive $5.72per BTU in subsidies, $2.82 per BTU for solar, $1.35 for refined coal, and only $.03 per BTU for refined petroleum and natural gas products. Surprised? These figures come from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), an independent federal agency that tried to quantify government spending on energy production in 2007. As you can see these figures are from the Bush era subsidies, later figures when they become available are sure to be MUCH higher!

President Obama made clear his intentions as a candidate when he declared he would “bankrupt the coal industry.” Coal is the energy source most widely used in the world for electrical production, and that subject will be covered in the next part of “Affirmative Action in the Green Industry Part 3.”


Anonymous said...

Green almost always means subsidized by government money.

barb p said...

Very interesting...