Thursday, May 29, 2008

Finally, a biofuel that doesn't use food crops: Sapphire Energy uses algae to make "green crude" which can be refined to gasoline or diesel, and unlike other biofuels the green crude can be shipped in existing pipelines. Read about it here or here. Competition with agricultural land is one of the problems with standard biofuels. That, and even cellulosic ethanol requires growing large stands of switchgrass, which is a highly invasive non-native plant in most areas. I don't know how much dinojuice could be replaced with this process, but it is a start, and should have the potential to be upscaled more than other biofuels.

Since $5/gallon gas isn't that far off, maybe people will start driving less. I think it is going to fundamentally change how we live. Much of the development in the US has been in exburb sprawl. At $5/gal. people will have to live closer to work, and consider other forms of transportation. It screws people who live in rural areas, and those that have to drive, but for the vast majority of people who have made the choice to commute 40-100 miles per day because housing was cheap in the exburbs, it changes that choice, and urban center areas are going to be a lot more desirable, even if there isn't the same amount of space. Europe has been living this way for years. Now is not the time to own in a bedroom community. I think it will fundamntally change San Marcos. Currently we've got just shy of 30K students. The school plans for a full 30K within 5 years. Right now, at least 30% of the undergraduates commute from Austin or San Antonio. That's not going to be economically feasible anymore. Rentals are going to be a hot commodity. Maybe it will get more people in this town out of their SUV's and onto bikes. I think it's already happening... I see more bikes here than I did 3 years ago.

No comments: