A Debate Proposal for the Ethanol Lobby – Let’s Get It On
The Oil Drum has posted an analysis of ethanol as a biofuel, responding to the President and CEO of the U.S. Renewable Fuels Association, Bob Dinneen’s, letter to the Rolling Stone regarding criticism of ethanol. Below is an excerpt from Robert Rapier’s post:
Can you count the errors and misleading statements? First, “ethanol yields nearly 70% more energy that it took to produce”. Then “gasoline contains 20% LESS energy that it took to produce.” Are you comparing like to like, Mr. Dinneen? Of course you aren’t. By your gasoline metric, ethanol also contains less energy than it took to produce. Why? Because you are counting the BTUs contained in the feed as an “input” to the gasoline process, but you are not counting the crude ethanol BTUs as an input to the ethanol process. You are not comparing like to like; you are comparing an efficiency to an energy return.
If I have some quantity of energy to invest (“invest” means to consume; not to take a ride through the process as the gasoline BTUs do) in energy production, will I end up with more energy if I invest that into gasoline production, or into ethanol production? The answer is gasoline production, by a wide margin. And I have demonstrated that numerous times, using the pro-ethanol USDA’s own numbers. I repeat: I am use pro-ethanol sources for my analyses. So accuse me of bias if you wish, but don’t accuse me of using “different figures.” I am using the same data source you are. I just didn’t accept the edited version of the numbers.
I wonder if Mr. Dinneen understands how the USDA paper (Wang at Argonne is a coauthor, hence Dinneen’s Argonne reference) arrived at this number? I am going to show you how they did, and cite the reports so you can check for yourself. I analyzed the reports in detail here, using USDA numbers to show that they engaged in a bit of creative accounting. You can read the analysis for yourself, but here’s the executive summary.