Que SARA, Será (Whatever Is Sustainable, Will Be): Sorghum, Water and Biofuels
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) There’s water, water everywhere, hardly a drop to use. The latest on Sustainable, Affordable, Reliable, Available biomass feedstocks that keep down the stress on our water tables.
…The basic dilemma in perennial biomass crops is well understood. There’s established demand in depth for animal feed. There’s rising population, eating more meat per capita than ever. There’s rising energy use per capita. And, new applications are flourishing that use biomass crops in energy, fuel and renewable chemicals.
…Today, 90 percent of all freshwater consumption is for today’s agriculture. Industry uses a lot, too. 11600 liters to make a pair of blue jeans, for example. To use even an eco-friendly industrial example, a Nissan Leaf based on coal-power will use up 1.6 million liters of water per year, doubling the water consumption of a US family of four with every purchase of a plug-in electric. (Ahem, making the case for more solar and wind power, please.)
…In addition to being a high-biomass product, enhanced sorghum is stingy on water. Producing up to three times as much biomass as corn for the same amount of water.
Using sorghum for a 50,000 acre project:, instead of irrigated sugarcane, saves enough water to meet the annual needs of a city of 1 – 2 million.
…Put simply, cellulosic fuels, since they need to be low-priced in order to tap that vast market, are the caboose of the train when it comes to the price that project developers can pay for feedstock.
According to Chromatin, the USDA projected price for animal feed will be in the $150 per ton range for 2013-2020, and prices are already north of $200 per ton in the Middle East and parts of Asia. EU power producers, facing renewable mandates, are looking at paying, even today, $150-$200 per ton for biomass feedstocks, costs which can be simply passed on to customers, buried somewhere in the power bill (not emblazoned on the street corner, like fuel costs).
In the US, cellulosic fuel producers expect, hope and pray to pay in the $50-$70 per ton range for feedstock. So, its not hard to imagine that they will not be getting, er, the first tons out of the hopper. READ MORE and MORE (watch video) and MORE (Ceres)