Going Green

Friday, February 1, 2008

Carbon Accounting in Ethanol Studies

Below is another interesting article from Iowa State. This one discusses how carbon is accounted for by researchers when studying the impact of something like corn-based ethanol production.

Is Corn Ethanol a Low-Carbon Fuel?

Bruce A. Babcock babcock@iastate.edu 515-294-6785
Ofir Rubin
rubino@iastate.edu 515-294-5452
Hongli Feng
hfeng@iastate.edu 515-294-6307

Reports of disappearing glaciers, shrinking arctic ice, rising sea levels, stronger hurricanes, and unprecedented European heat waves combined with an inexorable buildup in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels is increasing pressure on governments to respond with new greenhouse gas initiatives. California and other states are providing policy leadership in the United States.

Of particular interest to the biofuels industry is Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s January 2007 executive order that requires a 10 percent reduction in the carbon content of California’s transportation fuels by 2020. In contrast to federal renewable fuel standards, which mandate levels of use of biofuels, California’s fuel standard does not tell fuel suppliers (oil companies) how they should meet the new requirements. Alternative fuels will have to compete in terms of cost and carbon content. Only those fuels that can reduce carbon content at reasonable cost will be included in California fuel blends. Given that ethanol from corn comprises more than 90 percent of U.S. alternative fuels, a key determinant of the feasibility of meeting California’s ambitious goals is the extent to which corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Accounting for Corn Ethanol’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Whether corn ethanol reduces net greenhouse gas emissions...(complete article here).

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