eXtreme efFiciency

Yes, we really can have all the modern conveniences and clear consciences and a safe planet, too.
We just have to make the right choices

Sunday, September 9

A very promising biofuel

Biofuels have been talked about for years as having the potential to solve several problems at once -- energy dependence on unstable nations, greenhouse gas warming, and some kinds of pollution -- as well as giving a boost to farmers. But they're also a complex and controversial solution: different analysts reach very different conclusions as to whether biofuels can take more energy to produce than they acrually yield, and whether producing them would cause depletion in food crops and in water resources, among other things. The devil is in the details, and some biofuels, made from some crops in some places, may indeed be a real boon, while others may be questionable, or even disastrous. Entrepreneur Vinod Khosla is a strong believer in the potential of biofuels, and a very smart and successful businessman, and I find his analysis very convincing (see this presentation, for example).
In today's New York Times, there's a story about another very convincing and promising potential, a crop called jatropha that's already widely grown, especially in some very poor and very arid nations such as Mali, and that can efficiently yield a biodiesel fuel without competing with food crops for either land or water. This looks like a very good prospect, and one to keep an eye on.