The heft and feel of a well-worn handle,
The sight of shavings that curl from a blade;
The logs in the wood pile, the sentiment of huge beams in an old-fashioned house;
The smell of fresh cut timber and the pungent fragrance of burning leaves;
The crackle of kindling and the hiss of burning logs.
Abundant to all the needs of man, how poor the world would be
Without wood.

Everard Hinrichs, quoted by Eric Sloane in A Reverence for Wood


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tough times for ethanol

The headlines say a lot about the problems facing the ethanol industry...

June 16...
Senate vote marks start of end for ethanol subsidies 
(Reuters) - The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to eliminate billions of dollars in support for the U.S. ethanol industry, sending a strong message that the era of big taxpayer support for biofuels is ending. 
The 73-27 vote may ultimately be symbolic since the White House has vowed not to repeal ethanol subsidies fully and the bill the repeal language is attached to is not expected to make it into law. But it underscores the growing desperation to find savings in a budget crisis that is forcing both sides of the aisle to consider sacrificing once-sacred government programs.
Clearfield ethanol plant to shut for summer 
Citing high corn prices, company plans to close facility temporarily
Read more:

Wood-based, or otherwise cellulosic, ethanol is supposed to step into the gap created by market difficulties being experienced by corn-based ethanol. But with government participation drying up, that step is going to be a difficult one to take.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, this is another good reason why wood for heat, as a replacement for oil- and electric-based heating, continues to make more strategic sense than wood or biomass for liquid fuel replacement (ethanol).

As one (to remain anonymous) professional in the field emailed me just last week...
"Now if we can just get USDA off this cellulosic ethanol and torrefaction kick and focused on thermal and CHP we can move the ball down the field."
First and ten, biomass heating...

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