Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

May 06

NRDC: The Right Way to Use Biofuels

Posted in Biofuels | Energy Industry | Environment and Sustainability

NRDC Biofuels When we think about sources of alternative energy, we often feel a rush of positive thoughts engulfing us. We often think that while developing alternative sources of energy we are doing nothing wrong. But building up new sources of alternative energy is a double edged weapon. If we don’t tread cautiously we might hurt ourselves in the process. Caution should be exercised if we are going for biofuels as alternative source of energy. USA can boast of beautiful flora and fauna. We have the wild lands of the Cumberland Plateau in the southeast and formidable Rocky Mountains and Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Wildlife and natural forests of these places are rich and varied. But big businesses are trying to inflict irreversible damage to these pristine places in the guile of electricity and biofuels. We know that once destroyed we will never be able to restore the flora and fauna of these places to its former glory. So we have to be aware of those alternative energy resources that do more harm than good.


The Congress is also in the mood to change the energy map of America. They want more sites proclaiming renewable sources like wind, solar and biomass to produce energy. Here we want to concentrate on alternative energy source biomass. Biomass is the organic matter that can come from sustainable sources, but could also come from natural forests and grasslands. Biomass can be utilized for electricity and biofuels. But if you are going to use biofuels you also need to exercise strong discretion to differentiate good from bad. The wrong sources of biofuel can destroy forests and they can become the breeding ground of cropland or sterile tree plantations at the cost of wildlife of the area.

The U.S. biofuels industry has shot into prominence in recent years because of the rising oil prices and an emphasis on developing alternative sources of fuel. Keeping all the above situations in mind, a new campaign has been started by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). They are taking the help of the Internet and print media for running an awareness campaign about the right use of biofuels. The ads appeared on the front page of Politico.com . The ads direct people to biofuels page on NRDC’s website. This page compels people to use discretion while using biofuels. What is the right way of using the source of biofuels? If you are interested you can check out more detailed discussion of the potential and challenges for bioenergy on NRDC’s new renewables section of the website.

Why NRDC is taking action now? We have heard about the right time and the right place for certain things. Same is true about sources of biofuels. Energy map of USA is changing now and changing fast. Environment and debate about its damage is hot discussed now. If we read carefully then w can spot major alternative energy events like rules to implement the RFS2, implementation of the stimulus package, and climate policy are happening in current time. So it is an appropriate time to acquaint ourselves with the right kind of biofuels that will deal with the unemployment problem and will lead us towards green jobs, a stronger economy and a safer economy and ultimately, towards greener pastures.

  • http://www.prmedia.ca Cam McAlpine

    Good article that strikes an appropriately cautionary note. I would add that in these discussions we should also always keep in mind the distinction between Biomass for fuel and biomass for heat and power. Very different animals in inputs and outputs.

    Thanks, Cam

  • http://www.facebook.com/alternative.energy.news Mar Is Sol

    I wish my country would install this kind of energy because it would have a lot of benefits for both people and planet.

  • Francisco A Roque

    I still feel we should use some of the sea of oil we have instead of using corn and algae, they may have better uses for us people. The use of oil has now a limited use, since the price almost hit the 5 dls mark, it upset the whole world, except us, of course, but China, India and other countries are now running in air and electric, as for us here in the states, more and more people will go all electric, and hydrogen, and yes, air too. So my advice to Mr Obama is ‘Lets use that oil before we will not have any use for it’. And for the other’s people oil, well, they are going to find other uses for it.

    Francisco el Grande

  • Gail Feddern

    I agree. Of course, one position is that no matter what you do, some problems will also be caused. If that be so, we should make sure that the bad effects are minimal. As for biofuels, I think it’s totally unnecessary and undesirable to raze forests and monoculture corn! Instead, we should use kudzu and other undesirable weeds to make biofuels.

  • Jos Conil

    This is a well informed and balanced article. These concerns point to the fact that the approach of “one size fits all” will not work when it comes to sustainability.

    Only a multiple source energy policy can tackle the need for alternative energy and effectively address the problem of climate change, without doing any irreparable damage to our pristine ecological heritage.

  • russ

    ‘But big businesses are trying to inflict irreversible damage to these pristine places in the guile of electricity and biofuels.’

    An attractive statement to make to excite the true greenies and other air heads. For one location you seem to be suggesting someone wants to grow biomass or collect solar energy in Alaska?

    Biomass will be grown on prime or semi-prime land much as agri-business today. If a hippie is growing it in 50 kg batches then anywhere but if business is doing it in volume then materials handling is of prime importance. The power plant will be nearby – within 10’s of miles.

    The suggestion to use kudzu and other undesirable weeds is great – maybe everyone sends their lawn clippings and collected leaves by UPS to the collection center?

    For biomass you are talking billions & billions of tons – not a pickup load. The energy density of biomass is very low.

    This is similar to the difference between Obama’s campaign where everything was promised to now when he works with reality. He knew this all along but his more fanatic supporters never realized there were two different situations, one theoretical and one practical – pre & post election.

    Sorry to be nasty but it seems you needed a topic and this was the only thing that came to mind.

  • http://naturalstateresearch.com Nick Schirqalli

    Excellent words of caution, we do not want people starving,for example, by taking food for fuel. We at Natural State Research are converting waste plastics into hydrocarbon fuel. This fuel burns cleaner and more efficiently than gasoline. It also removes the pollution caused by decomposing waste plastics. It does not solve the entire alternative fuel problem; but, it could solve about three percent of it.

  • Shanti N

    I must agree with all comments stated. Biofuels can have a great future within our society, but the matter of fact is whether or not we can sustain the balance between the use of whatever oil is left, and the caring of the Earth and how we would be able to obtain the necessary biomass needed to produce the actual net energy needed for the nation. Also, as the article doesn’t state, though there may be some downsides toward the use of biofuels, there is also some good to it. Yes, it does produce carbon emissions, but at this day and age , what form of energy doesn’t? There are some which don’t, but are they even brought to the attention to the public, do the public even care for that fact? all they know is they have cars, they have oil, and their government is providing it. sooner or later, the oil will run dry, and then what? We will have to look for some other form of energy, hopefully a renewable one, that can be accessed across the country. i just hope that the time is very soon, so in that way we have time to come up with a solid plan. I do believe that the use biofuel will lead us to a solution, but the problem remains, how?


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