I’ve been keeping a sort of close watch on the progress of both of these fuel options and having done so, I’m not convinced that either one is such a good choice for the long term here in the Pine Tree State, or anywhere else for that matter. They both certainly have some good qualities, and I can agree that they have a place in the greater scheme of things. But I become nervous when the promoters claim that these two options can effectively replace coal and oil.
Both of these fuels are touted as answers to at least part of the global warming catastrophe that most environmentalists and Green Groups seem intent upon worshipping. Largely due to Al Gore’s promotion of his seriously flawed, and unscientific advertising campaign warning of the dangers of CO2 and the need for mitigation or reduction of this particular GHG. In reading some of his claims, he seems to purport that one way of proving that CO2 is responsible for increasing temperatures is by pointing out that Venus has way more CO2 in its atmosphere, making it hot enough to melt lead, with an air temperature of 740 K. Because of the fact that CO2 makes up approximately 90% of the atmosphere it make the presumption very easy.
However, it has been shown by many climatologists that it is impossible for CO2 to cause the reflectivity that is needed to create this greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is actually caused by vapor in the atmosphere, and Venus is shrouded with several layers of dense clouds made of vapors containing Sulfur dioxide. In contrast, we can look at Mars, which has about 15 times more CO2 in its atmosphere than we do. If Gores’ theory holds true, Mars should be hotter that the Earth. Much hotter. But it isn’t. The average temperature on Mercury is 70 below Zero.
The big problem with the global warming argument as put forth by the Greens poster boy Gore is that true science was not used to arrive at the conclusions he promotes. All of the ‘facts’ are little more than guesses arrived at by building a statistical future based purely on suggested numbers. This is called a ‘computer based model.’ None of the predictions from these models have come to pass. There have been claims that the ocean temperatures have been rising, but NOAA’s Argos buoy system doesn’t seem to support that claim. There has been a warming, although minute in perspective, of the surface temperatures. One interesting fact I came across states that water holds less CO2 at higher temperatures, and therefore as water temperature increases, more CO2 is released into the atmosphere from the oceans.
But to get back to the original discussion of E10 and wood pellets, let me touch briefly on the usage of E10. While the claim that ethanol is more environmentally friendly than petro fuel, it really isn’t. For one thing, studies from the EPA show that there is in fact a lower CO2 emission at the outset. Estimates are that E85 has about 29% less CO2 emissions than petro fuel. E10 would be around 8% less I believe. The fact that E10 is less efficient, thereby requiring more usage to do the same amount of work as with petro fuels, offsets that difference making the net output of CO2 almost equal as from straight petro fuel. But the worse part of using ethanol in fuel is that E10 usage causes about 30% higher outputs of NOS, Acetaldehyde, and other acid rain causing chemicals, and the percentage increases as the temperature decreases. The actual result of these emissions would lead to a higher incidence of respiratory ailments and other problems.
Maine gets pretty cold in the winter time, and many sources relate anecdotal evidence that fuel with E10 in it is less reliable in the winter time. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that more research needs to be done before we should just arbitrarily begin the widespread usage of ethanol as fuel. Many countries around the world are beginning to come to the realization that the effort of CO2 reduction isn’t worth the growing costs associated with it. Sweden was the pioneer country in instituting a carbon tax structure in 1981. In spite of the cost and all of the efforts expended, in over twenty five years they have only attained a reduction of less than 2% of their carbon output as a nation.
With the growing resentment of the environmental organizations worldwide, one would wonder whether the Un will in fact be able to levy the global carbon tax as proposed by the Zedillo committee a few years ago at the Mexico conference. There are a lot of false claims behind this global warming situation being used to suggest a coming catastrophic conclusion if we do not act quickly enough. The carbon tax is being used as a way to suggest a way to reduce carbon, but the proof shows that it doesn’t work.
So in using the product we call wood pellets for heating, are we walking into another potential problem? It has been wrongly asserted that the increase in demand for ethanol has caused shortages and spiking prices of food around the world. While this in part may be true, it cannot be blamed for all of the increase. Other factors such as increasing populations and cyclical drought conditions in Australia, reduction of farmland in Asia due to an expanding industrial base and other situations are the majority causes of the increase in food prices.
But to counter this myth, a move is afoot to change from feedstock consisting of food based crops to a cellulosic feedstock will result in an increasing demand for wood to feed the process. With an increase in demand for the same wood fiber crops used to produce wood pellets by the ethanol industry, the prices are sure to rise on wood pellet fuel. Supply and demand is always the dominant factor when computing financial models. Increased demand coupled with lowering supplies leads to an increase in price.
At some point and time, many analysts believe, the price of crude oil will begin to decline. I haven’t come across any who see a huge decrease, but it is probable that we may see a decrease back to around $100.00 per barrel. When this may happen is up for grabs. It may happen next year, or it may not happen until after the next presidential election cycle. But either way, it’s unlikely to decrease unless the value of the US dollar regains its status as the strongest currency in the world.
But if you decide you want to convert, it might not be a bad idea to set it up so you can easily change back to an oil based system. As for the ethanol, I’m going to be paying attention to the pumps. If the stickers announcing the presence of E10 show up where I get gas, I’m going to change stations. At least for a while. I believe we may see a situation similar to the one Maine went through with the MBTE fuel additives.
And just so you are aware of a little unadvertised fact, the biggest reason ethanol is low cost is because it is heavily subsidized by various tax break schemes. So even if you don’t use it, you are still paying for it in the form of higher taxes.