A World of Biofuel (and then some)

Posted by on May 26, 2006 at 4:14 am.

This article from Jeff Schafer had some interesting data on biofuels. Schafer spends much of the article touting Biodiesel and the benefits of diesel generally, but many of his comments relate to bioethanol as well. Although he sounds excited about the prospects of biofuel, he also delivers a healthy dose of skepticism around biofuels replacing fossil fuels.

I haven’t corroborated elsewhere, but Schafer’s table below suggests that replacing crude oil with biofuel would require growing biofuel crops on 5X the world’s arable farmland. Even if 100% of the world’s farmland was devoted to biofuels, that would only replace 20% of our crude oil consumption.

Those numbers still suggest a sizeable biofuel opportunity, but it’s not the answer for fossil fuel reliance — especially with Chindia ramping up their consumption.

Schafer provides another table that piqued my curiosity on biofuel crops. What’s the deal with Oil Palms? Wherease Corn can deliver 196 barrels of biofuel per square mile of crop, and Coconut (the second highest producer) can deliver a whopping 3,131 barrels/sqm, Oil Palms can deliver 6,927 barrels/sqm — more than 30X that of Corn. With that level of production we’d at least have a shot at replacing crude oil prior to colonizing other planets…

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