Silly government...

...alcohol is for drinking!

I bet you thought this was gonna be an election-related post.

Gee...who ever would have thought ethanol-as-energy investments would be failing? (free registration req'd for full article, via Ted Williams)

I'll give you a hint...he's got two thumbs....

From the article:

Six of the biggest publicly traded US ethanol producers have lost more than $8.7bn in market value since the peak of the boom in mid-2006....

Ouch...but that's nothing compared to what you've lost....

Investor losses come as taxpayers have paid billions to support the ethanol industry. More than $11.2bn has been spent since 2005 on tax breaks for companies that blend ethanol into petrol. Billions more have been spent on direct state and federal subsidies for US ethanol production.

“We’re looking at an industry that’s cost $80bn to get to this point,” said Bob Starkey, a fuels analyst at Jim Jordan & Associates, a research group in Houston., it's just money. Money that continues to flow from your pocket to a failing industry built on a flawed rationale; one which private investors are running from despite it's massive subsidies. I would hope $80B is the going rate for an invalid fledgling, but something tells me we still have more to pay before people back down.

...ethanol has disappointed many who saw it as a wonder product that could reduce the US’s dependence on foreign oil while cutting down on pollution. Worse, a growing number of influential critics now say ethanol is helping raise the price of food.

Hmmm...where have I seen these issues before...?

And yet, people continue to deny, deny, deny;

“I’d challenge you to find any energy resource today that isn’t dependent on government support,” [Renewable Fuels Association's] Mr [Bob] Dinneen said. “If domestically produced energy is something that you want to have, then some of these subsidies are going to be necessary.”

That just doesn't sound...correct? Google, help me out.

Oil industry subsidies for dummies

The study estimates that the federal government has provided $725 billion in energy subsidies (including R&D funding and tax breaks) over the last 50 years. The biggest beneficiaries? The oil and gas industry. That’s right. Oil and gas got 60% of that $725 billion. Next in line is coal at 13%, followed by hydropower at 11%. Nukes come in at 9%, while renewables got only 6% — just one tenth of the largess showed on oil and gas.

Okay, that's a pretty good start. So, renewables have only been getting 6% ( hydro...ooops, forgot to include that in renewable?)...but keep in mind that is over the past 50 years. The actual study can be found here. Let's take a look at my favorite non-renewable energy (the atom) vs. ethanol, shall we...

From Energy from Thorium;

...most of the so-called research subsidy to the "nuclear industry", was not focused on conventional power reactor technologies. Only $5.8 billion was spent on light-water reactors, the only civilian nuclear technology used to generate power in the United States.

...getting there...

...only 6% ($1.68 Billion) of Federal nuclear research dollars since 1976 have been spent on light-water reactor research, despite the fact that light-water reactors provide 20% of power in the United States.

...I wonder how much ethanol provides. Now, here it comes...

Unlike all other energy sources there has never been a tax-based subsidy for the nuclear industry. In contrast, renewables as well as oil, gas, and other energy forms receive heavy tax subsidies. Most of the cost of hydro construction is paid for by the Federal government with no return to the tax payers. Most energy forms have received more money from the Federal Government than they have paid to it. The one exception is the civilian nuclear industry, which has paid $14 billion more to the Government that it has received.

Oh snap! We've given over $11 billion in never-to-be-seen-again tax breaks just over the last 3 years to companies that mix ethanol into your gas (someone could pay me to pour white lightening into my tank any day, who needs the middle-man?), while nuclear has been paying us back in full...and then some!? What are we? Stupid?

Granted, there's a lot to take into consideration...there is no silver bullet...but there does appear to be more than a hint of promise for a cheap, domestic supply of energy from a current technology, wouldn't you say? Let's hope someone smarter than I has been keeping track of this.


Miss Margaret said…
great blog in that it was too smart for me to concentrate on today.

but, couldn't u just do a lil' bashing of a woman that enjoys the "sport" of shooting animals from helicopters? please? come on. come on. you know you want to.
Menjik said…
Great idea. If only we can develop a civilian grade nuke plant that can be replicated into 200,000,000 units; then hope one of the 200,000,000 people doesn't figure out how to Jerry Rig it to kill people.
Issues with nuclear revolve more around the fuel cycle and cost.

It seems unlikely that nukes will truly fall below $.30 per Kwh in costs, and the fuel cycle can be pretty destructive (take a gander at the leftover Uranium mining messes, often on tribal lands.

I'm not against nuclear, but in one sense it feels a lot like grasping at straws in an attempt to avoid making lifestyle changes or funding more decentralized solutions (solar on every roof, etc) which don't typically accrue profits to utilities.
FoulHooked said…
TC, I don't disagree, but it seems to me, of the developed and in-place technologies, it has proven itself as providing the most bang for the buck. Waste is an issue, but I can't see why we wouldn't be able to bridge that gap relatively easily. Supply may be an issue as well...I honestly don't know enough about this stuff.

But, the point of it all, is that subsidized ethanol isn't working, and that should have been realized long ago.

I completely agree with maximizing decentralized generation. The question I have is whether it is economically competitive and if not, how to make it so? I tend to believe that, with proper regulation (and perhaps carbon taxes, etc), green can, and needs to be competitive without relying too substantially on subsidies (outside of research grants, etc.).
Miss Margaret said…
Miss Margaret said…

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