Monday, August 07, 2006

Biofuel, anyone?

I can understand SBY's interest in developing biofuel. In the time of rising oil price (which is natural by itself), it is not surprising that people turn to, or look for, substitutes. Biodiesel and ethanol are logical solutions to the increasingly thinly supplied fossil fuel.

But, let's not be too excited as to exploiting the resources in the wrong time. (By "wrong" I mean, the price hasn't told us yet that it is time to switch).

One thing that people tend to overlook when talking about biofuel is the production costs of it. And that includes using fossil fuel to turn jathropa into biodiesel or sugarcane into ethanol. (Hey, you can't put sugarcane or jathropa or palm oil into your car tank!).

So yes, we need to compare how much fossil fuel we have to use to produce biofuel and how much fossil fuel we save by consuming the biofuel instead.

I might sound pessimistic. But I'm not alone.

Of course there are other considerations, such as employment creation. I have an impression that SBY wants to promote the jathropa planting at the same time as an employment creating project. It might be true. But that reminds me of the "to dig holes in the ground" solution. It might be effective in creating employment, but it's an illusion as far as economic development is considered.


Arya said...

And if, in doing so, he'd mess around with the rules of international trade, he would inevitably subsidise the local alcoholic drinks industry. Hey, suddenly the idea doesn't sound so bad after all...

Aco said...

Hi, Arya. Before he overplays it into another form of subsidy, he'd better stop. And yes, Mr. Fahmi Idris's mumbo-jumbo on "molase" is ridiculous.