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Net Energy: More Harm than Good?
- Ethanol Production Using Corn, Switchgrass, and Wood; Biodiesel Production Using Soybean and Sunflower (2005 study by Dr. Pimental and Dr. Patzek)
Abstract: Energy outputs from ethanol produced using corn, switchgrass, and wood biomass were each less than the respective fossil energy inputs. The same was true for producing biodiesel using soybeans and sunflower, however, the energy cost for producing soybean biodiesel was only slightly negative compared with ethanol production. Findings in terms of energy outputs compared with the energy inputs were:
- Ethanol production using corn grain required 29% more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced.
- Ethanol production using switchgrass required 50% more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced.
- Ethanol production using wood biomass required 57% more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced.
- Biodiesel production using soybean required 27% more fossil energy than the biodiesel fuel produced (Note, the energy yield from soy oil per hectare is far lower than the ethanol yield from corn).
- Biodiesel production using sunflower required 118% more fossil energy than the biodiesel fuel produced.
- Dr. Tad Patzek, University of California at Berkeley (argues that ethanol represents a net energy loss)
- Dr. David Pimentel, Cornell University
- The Ethanol Myth by Consumer Reports, October 2006
"CR determined that E85 will cost consumers more money than gasoline and that there are concerns about whether the government’s support of FFVs is really helping the U.S. achieve energy independence"