Biofuels Beaten By Photovoltaics at Converting Energy of Sun to Miles Driven
In 2005, President Bush and corn farmers in America had seen corn ethanol as a gifted fossil fuel alternate that would decrease both American necessity on greenhouse gas emissions and foreign oil. So, 2005 energy bill directed that 4 billion renewable fuel gallons be added to the supply of gasoline in 2006, which rose to 4.7 billion in year 2007 and 7.5 billion gallons in 2012.
In 2010, 40 % of US corn production was consumed for fuel ethanol, and prices in 2012 can be said to be record highs. Since United States also accounts for 40% of world’s corn, The US ethanol production has made significant impact on the prices of corn around the world.
Since electric vehicles (EVs) are increasingly becoming popular and charging stations too are being constructed to serve them, electric vehicles are in a competition with substitute-fuel vehicles. Utilizing electricity produced by coal-fired plants in order to power the vehicles downfalls the purpose somewhat, but how about energy coming from ultimate renewable and clean source – the sun? How would it compete with the ethanol when it comes to life-cycle emissions, land usage, and even the cost?
The source of energy for biofuels is Sun, via photosynthesis and the source of energy for the solar power too is the Sun. To find which is better, David Stoms, former researcher from BrenSchool, James Kallaos from the Norwegian University of Science & Technology, and Geyer teamed up and modeled the relative competences of these technologies at converting a particular quantity of sunlight to the miles driven.
The outcomes, which published in December 26 issue of journal “Environmental Science and Technology” and also appeared in a paper, proved that the photovoltaic (PV) is much more resourceful than the biomass in converting the sunlight into energy for fueling a vehicle.
The researchers also examined 3 ways of utilizing sunlight for powering cars:
a) Traditional way of turning corn or similar plants to the ethanol
b) Transforming energy crops to electricity instead of generating ethanol
c) Utilizing PVs for converting sunlight into electricity
Focusing the Life Cycle Assessment on 3 key influences; life cycle GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, direct land usage, and fossil fuel needs – researchers identified photovoltaic power for vehicles as a better sun-to-wheels method for conversion.