Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sake power for your car!

Here's another take on the food vs. fuel debate.

Drivers in Japan could soon be filling their automobiles' tanks with a fuel version of the fermented rice wine locally known as Sake. A government-funded pilot project will produce rice-based ethanol for cars, rather than human consumption. The initiative will be carried out in Shinanomachi, with the help of local farmers, who will donate rice hulls and other farm wastes, which will be converted to ethanol. The project will evaluate the biofuel on a "flex-fuel" vehicle, which can run on any mixture of gasoline and green fuels.

Japan, which is completely dependent on crude oil imports, is the second-largest consumer of gasoline in the world, behind the United States. The country has been hit hard by the recent increase in crude prices and is looking into locally producing biofuels to decrease costs and meet the stringent carbon emissions reductions set forth in the Kyoto Protocol.

However, producing rice-based ethanol that has a price tag similar with that of gasoline in Japan poses a big concern. After all, it takes 17 lb of rice just to produce 1 gal of ethanol - tsk.

Some analysts believe that Japan is at a major disadvantage for a number of reasons, i.e.,

  • lack of support from the country's powerful oil distributors;
  • failure by the government to provide policy incentives, e.g., mandatory usage;
  • and high prices for local farm produce translate to exorbitantly expensive locally-made green fuels.

And I kid you not when I say that the analysts are right on the money.
What do you think, thinker?



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Richard said...

Just give the food to less-developed countries! Also, people in the government should realize that precious resources should be used wisely for sustainable development.

THE ANiTOKiD said...

Very well said! Indeed, sustainable development is one of the keys in the food vs. fuel debate.

It's always a runout at The Runout TV!