• 10 hours Oil Pares Gains After API Reports Surprise Crude Inventory Build
  • 11 hours Elon Musk Won’t Get Paid Unless Tesla Does “Extraordinarily Well”
  • 11 hours U.S. Regulators Keep Keystone Capacity Capped At 80 Percent
  • 12 hours Trump Signs Off On 30 Percent Tariff On Imported Solar Equipment
  • 14 hours Russian Funds May Invest In Aramco’s IPO To Boost Oil Ties
  • 15 hours IMF Raises Saudi Arabia Growth Outlook On Higher Oil Prices
  • 16 hours China Is World’s Number-2 In LNG Imports
  • 1 day EIA Weekly Inventory Data Due Wednesday, Despite Govt. Shutdown
  • 1 day Oklahoma Rig Explodes, Leaving Five Missing
  • 1 day Lloyd’s Sees No Room For Coal In New Investment Strategy
  • 2 days Gunmen Kidnap Nigerian Oil Workers In Oil-Rich Delta Area
  • 2 days Libya’s NOC Restarts Oil Fields
  • 2 days US Orion To Develop Gas Field In Iraq
  • 4 days U.S. On Track To Unseat Saudi Arabia As No.2 Oil Producer In the World
  • 4 days Senior Interior Dept. Official Says Florida Still On Trump’s Draft Drilling Plan
  • 4 days Schlumberger Optimistic In 2018 For Oilfield Services Businesses
  • 4 days Only 1/3 Of Oil Patch Jobs To Return To Canada After Downturn Ends
  • 5 days Statoil, YPF Finalize Joint Vaca Muerta Development Deal
  • 5 days TransCanada Boasts Long-Term Commitments For Keystone XL
  • 5 days Nigeria Files Suit Against JP Morgan Over Oil Field Sale
  • 5 days Chinese Oil Ships Found Violating UN Sanctions On North Korea
  • 5 days Oil Slick From Iranian Tanker Explosion Is Now The Size Of Paris
  • 5 days Nigeria Approves Petroleum Industry Bill After 17 Long Years
  • 5 days Venezuelan Output Drops To 28-Year Low In 2017
  • 5 days OPEC Revises Up Non-OPEC Production Estimates For 2018
  • 6 days Iraq Ready To Sign Deal With BP For Kirkuk Fields
  • 6 days Kinder Morgan Delays Trans Mountain Launch Again
  • 6 days Shell Inks Another Solar Deal
  • 6 days API Reports Seventh Large Crude Draw In Seven Weeks
  • 6 days Maduro’s Advisors Recommend Selling Petro At Steep 60% Discount
  • 6 days EIA: Shale Oil Output To Rise By 1.8 Million Bpd Through Q1 2019
  • 6 days IEA: Don’t Expect Much Oil From Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Before 2030
  • 7 days Minister Says Norway Must Prepare For Arctic Oil Race With Russia
  • 7 days Eight Years Late—UK Hinkley Point C To Be In Service By 2025
  • 7 days Sunk Iranian Oil Tanker Leave Behind Two Slicks
  • 7 days Saudi Arabia Shuns UBS, BofA As Aramco IPO Coordinators
  • 7 days WCS-WTI Spread Narrows As Exports-By-Rail Pick Up
  • 7 days Norway Grants Record 75 New Offshore Exploration Leases
  • 7 days China’s Growing Appetite For Renewables
  • 7 days Chevron To Resume Drilling In Kurdistan
Alt Text

Are Higher Uranium Prices Around The Corner?

The world’s largest uranium producer…

Alt Text

Nuclear Power's Resurgence In The Middle East

While nuclear power loses popularity…

Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer and political analyst based in Michigan. His work on matters related to the geopolitical aspects of the global energy sector,…

More Info

Time to Switch to Switchgrass

Time to Switch to Switchgrass

Scientists in the United States announced plans to use remote sensing data to map grasslands in and around Nebraska in order to determine what areas are best suited for cellulosic biofuel derived from switchgrass. USGS officials said it would take much of the "guesswork" out of deciding where to plant crops for the use of biofuels on U.S. grasslands. With what could be considered standard forms of alternative energy -- wind and solar power -- gaining momentum, most of the guesswork for biofuels may be in its future.

Expensive gasoline does strange things to U.S. consumers. It prompts them to do everything from investing in a hybrid vehicle to trading in their gas-powered lawnmowers for old-fashioned reel mowers. With gasoline hovering near historic ties, scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey announced plans to use satellite data to find the best places in the Platte River Basin in and around Nebraska to assess where it's best to produce switchgrass for biofuels.

Switchgrass is a good crop in that it grows fast, tall and taps into water not readily available to other plants, including most food crops. Because of this, it's relatively easy to turn into a fuel source. The White House last year announced plans for up to $510 million in investments to back biofuels for military transportation and the Navy said it wanted half of its fuel to come from renewable sources by 2020. In May, an $80 million project was launched in Missouri to make jet fuel from switchgrass.

USGS scientists have developed a method for mapping grasslands that could be well suited for growing biofuel crops. This boils down to good and basic natural resource management. But just as scientists note that just because it's green doesn’t' make it clean, switchgrass has its problems. Critics complain that it actually requires more energy from chemicals, heat and electricity to produce a viable fuel from switchgrass. Furthermore, replacing conventional gasoline with biofuels produced from switchgrass would actually give off more of some types of greenhouse gasses.

Production of biofuels produced from perennial crops like switchgrass can offset some of the emissions tied to fossil fuels. Agricultural considerations, however, could lead to higher levels of greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide. Meanwhile, the Navy is reportedly spending four times as much for biofuels than it would on conventional jet fuel. Reports of the $1,000 hammer aside, that's hardly a wise investment.

The EPA announced this week it was examining a 15-percent ethanol mix for gasoline engines. Presumably, that's part of President Obama's trumpeted "all-of-the-above" energy strategy, but even his predecessor George W. Bush found something to love in switchgrass. Much of the ethanol produced in the United States comes from food crops so moving to switchgrass seems like a logical step. It's too expensive now, but as technology grows, so too will the Nebraska prairies used for biofuels.

By. Daniel J. Graeber of Oilprice.com




Back to homepage


Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News