The ethanol story has longer legs than we originally thought. A few more items on the ability of ethanol to serve as a substitute for petroleum based fuels.
In the USA Today, Paul Elias reports on research trying to optimize the use of enzymes and microbes to process plant waste into ethanol. So far research into these processes has seen limited success. However with additional research funding there is a possibility of a breakthrough.
Kevin Hassett at Bloomberg.com writes off ethanol as a “political scam.” Hassett cites research that demonstrates that ethanol production uses more energy than actually generated. In short, the President has fallen for a energy policy driven more by politics than solid science.
On a more optimistic note Matthew Lynn at Bloomberg.com notes that calm is returning to the energy markets. In short, market forces are beginning to reassert themselves. Higher prices have dampened demand, and make alternative energy technologies more attractive.
Only time will tell whether ethanol becomes a truly viable alternative to petroleum. It will likely take a technological (or more likely biological or genetic) breakthrough to make ethanol production competitive on an apples to apples basis.