Written by Gregory Iwahashi
|Tuesday, 25 October 2011|
What are the different types of biofuels? To categorize the large array of biofuels, there are two main categories: 1) First generation or biofuels that are conventional emit 20% less green house gas (GHG) emissions than petroleum based gasoline; 2) second generation or advanced biofuels will emit at least 50% less GHG emissions than petroleum based gasoline.2 There are some studies that say second generation biofuels could emit as much as 80% less GHGs!3
At this time, first generation biofuels are the major market players, as they are derived from pretty much every type of feedstock, so let’s look at these:
Why are biofuels important? Hailed for its diversity, biofuels will allow energy to come from new undiscovered sources that are renewable and sustainable. In developing biofuels, many of the problems that the U.S. and the world face today with our current energy portfolio will be solved, or at least greatly ameliorated. Let’s look at some of the hopes pinned on biofuels…
Is the U.S. government involved in the biofuels market?
In the year 2011 alone the government has committed to spending $510 million dollars on biofuels.8 In the past decade, over a billion dollars in public and private funding has driven this industry that started with only corn ethanol and is now an industry producing over 10 types of biofuels. The figure below shows the breakdown of government spending currently taking place:
As you can see a considerable amount of money is going to R&D, that the government has awarded to public and private research groups to help create and optimize the development of these emerging technologies. On the policy side of things, the government has created a number of different policies to ensure a future and structure that this young industry can build upon. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) provides a spending plan for continued research, investment, and biofuel production requirements.10
The Obama administration’s American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) provided much of the funding that has stimulated biofuel start ups around the country, with over a dozen promising companies in California alone. Additionally, for the more established producers, subsidies and project loans are allowing for scaling and ramped up production levels. While it is unclear whether this continued funding will be enough to help the biofuel industry blossom into full affect, many can say that biofuels are the place to be for energy innovation. Let’s hope so!
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|Last Updated ( Friday, 19 October 2012 )|