He writes in the FT:
…technology is bound to deliver a biofuel that will be competitive
with fossil energy at something like current prices. It probably
already has. Brazil has been exporting ethanol to the US at an average
delivery price of $1.45 for an amount with the energy equivalence of a
gallon of petrol. It is doing so profitably and in increasing amounts,
in spite of a 54 cents a gallon tariff to protect American maize-based
ethanol producers. Many countries are following suit.
ethanol is an inconvenient chemical compound that is corrosive and
soluble in water, thus limiting its immediate market to that of a
gasoline additive. However, this is just the Betamax phase of the
industry. There is plenty of private venture capital money being poured
into finding more efficient ways of extracting energy from biomass and
delivering it to transport and power systems. Over time, the technology
will also become more flexible, allowing more crops to be used as
feedstock, not just the current choice of sugarcane, maize and palm
oil…the world is full of under-utilised land that can grow the biomass that the new technology will require.
It shocked me to read this, though not for any good cognitive reason. Perhaps I too quickly assume that the trendy will not pan out. My not well informed mental model has been that our energy future lies with (relatively) clean coal, not so clean coal, nuclear, oil shale, and tar sands, all of which can in fact produce lots of power.