- Ethanol production requires almost as much energy as it yields. This is a common argument, but the Minnesota study found that the net energy yield from corn based ethanol is 25%.
- It isn’t easy being “green” when growing corn. Corn is not a hassle-free crop, and to get high yields you need a lot of fertilizer. I can't imagine too much organically-grown corn is going to go into ethanol production.
- Corn crowds out wildlife. Basically, more corn = less wildlife. However, another potential source of ethanol--prairie grass--is essentially wildlife in the sense that it fosters an ecosystem native to the region in which it grows.
- Corn ethanol doesn’t cut enough greenhouse gases. It's not much better than regular old gasoline, and in some respects it's worse.
- We can’t grow enough corn. This goes back to the "more corn = less wildlife" idea; the energy yield of corn just isn't enough for us to "grow" our way to energy independence. Sorry, corn.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Corn-Based Ethanol - Not A Panacea
This article, which is a summary of findings of a University of Minnesota study, is a good summary of why corn-based ethanol is anything but a panacea for solving energy problems. Here are the five main reasons offered: