November 17, 2008

Net energy under fire

Rating biofuels by net energy -- the amount of energy a fuel or energy technology produces minus the energy it consumes -- is questionable, according to researchers who say that a broader set of metrics is needed to assess the sustainability of new energy technologies.

Opponents of net energy say that biofuels should be assessed on how much petroleum they displace, how much they reduce greenhouse gas emissions, how they affect land use and their impact on economic growth in the developing world, as well as their net energy.

Proponents of the net energy metric say that policymakers need the hard numbers it provides to make decisions about which fuels to support.

The debate has been presented in three publications in the journal Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining: Net Energy: Still a (Mostly) Irrelevant, Misleading and Dangerous Metric, The Net Energy Debate: Response to Professor Dale, and Response to Dr. Poldy's Questions in This Issue.

Back to ERN November 17/24, 2008



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