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» Green fuel, the costly alternative

HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Green fuel, the costly alternative

Written March 28th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
Those bars above the annual fuel cost compare distances on gas and ethanol.

Those bars above the annual fuel cost compare distances on gas and ethanol.

If you want a demonstration of how much you’re getting hosed by the push for green fuel, check the stickers on new cars or trucks. They’ll tell you, among other things, how inefficient and thus wasteful ethanol really is.

march 24 003

The stickers on these Ford trucks compare how far you can drive on a tank or gasoline and a tank of E85, which is mostly ethanol and with 15 percent gasoline. On one of those I checked, gas will let you go 576 miles on one tank, but if you run on E85, you’ll stop at mile 432. The proportion was about the same on the others. That’s 1.3 miles on gas for every mile you can drive in ethanol.

For years now in Oregon, we’ve been running on 10 percent ethanol, so the loss of mileage is not nearly as great as with E85. But it’s still there. That’s not all, though. There is also the cost of production.

On its website, the Oregon Department of Energy says, “Because a gallon of ethanol contains less energy than a gallon of gasoline, the production cost of ethanol must be multiplied by a factor of 1.5 to make an energy cost comparison with gasoline.”

So, ethanol is about one-third less efficient and 50 percent more expensive to produce than gasoline. This does not recommend ethanol as a smart alternative, regardless how much we might like to support corn growers in the Midwest.

But in the interest of slowing down the alleged human effect on climate change, Oregon now is pushing ahead with forcing fuel producers and suppliers to reduce the “carbon intensity” of their products even more. So unless we change course, the fuel available in coming years will take us even shorter distances than E10 already does, and it will cost more to produce. Which means we’ll have to buy and burn more of it  — and pay more per unit — in order to go where we need to go. And as we go through more fuel, the presumed decline in carbon emissions disappears. But alternative-fuel investors get rich. That’s about the only result I can see. (hh).



11 responses to “Green fuel, the costly alternative”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    An obvious cost that for some reason people don’t seem to see is the much increased cost of meat over the last couple years.
    Corn is being diverted to alcohol production (with generous tax benefits) causing the price of livestock feed to soar.
    So, we pay more for-
    Fuel
    Food
    Taxes.

  2. Warren Beeson says:

    I could go into my usual rant about this topic which has been a pet peeve of mine for years. Lets just state that this is a Progressive Democrat program that has been rammed down the throat of Oregonians by a Democrat-controlled legislature and supported by Democrat Governors. It hurts lower-income people and working families the most. We all need to remember who is responsible when we go to the polls to vote. Democrats portray themselves as the party of the “working man” but they are really the working man’s worst enemy what with programs like this, Obamacare, environmental regulations, taxes, gun control and many more. Don’t forget that when you vote.

  3. Bob Woods says:

    Looking at that sticker, if you’re really concerned about fuel costs you shouldn’t be looking at a rig that has a combined MPG rating of 16 MPG.

    There are two components about E85. The good is that ethanol is renewable as opposed to a fossil fuel. The bad is that politics supporting the corn lobby was a significant portion of the E85 mandate.

    • No matter how much fuel a vehicle requires, it will always need fewer gallons of gasoline than of gasohol to go a certain distance. That was the point. (hh)

  4. Roger says:

    I hope the necessary signatures are gathered to refer this new law to the voters.

  5. Jim Engel says:

    The only green in the fuel bill are the thousands of acres of corn planted to feed this monster! Keep in mind that corn has a tremendous thirst & those very deep wells in the mid-west tap into the aquifer & drain it. Along with feed for cattle growing feed for supplementing gas is a no win deal from my view. Detroit has wrung about every drop of efficiency from an engine there is & we ought to leave it alone. Corn for cattle & cereal boxes would be my vote. Corn is surpassing the give aways that tobacco enjoyed for about a century! JE

  6. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “So, ethanol is about one-third less efficient and 50 percent more expensive to produce than gasoline.”

    Have you checked the price on non-ethanol gasoline? Dramatically higher than the ethanol blends.. Why?

    • Because it’s premium grade? Or because some vintage vehicles almost require it, meaning that stations can charge more?

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      A station needs a separate (3rd) tank & pump for a low volume product. (Your “mid grade” is mixed at the pump from high & low octane)
      Add the fact that it’s high octane only, as Hasso mentioned, reduces the demand even more because of the added “octane” price.
      I would think the majority of purchasers only buy a relatively small quantity at a time, mainly for high performance engines such as chain saws, motorcycles, snow mobiles etc.
      Some years back, I worked at one of the “cut rate” franchises. When the truck was filled in Portland, the raw alcohol was simply “dumped” on top. All “mixing” happened in transit and when it was “dumped” in the underground tank.

      Also note, if you use “high” octane, some venders “fudge” and sell theirs at 1 “octane point” lower.

  7. Shawn Dawson says:

    I run my 2012 car on non-ethanol gas (purchased at the Shell by the old Safeway).

    I have done the comparisons by the tank full, at cruising speeds on the highway, the same trip, to compare ethanol to non-ethanol. It’s tricky, as the way one drive impacts MPG more than the energy content of the fuel. But as best as I can figure out from a few tanks of mid grade ethanol gas (the recommended gas for my car) vs non-ethanol, I get 10-15% more mpg with the non-ethanol.

    That is, I get about 28MPG with non-ethanol and 24MPG with the ethanol product.

    I definitely pay more than a 15 % premium on the non-ethanol, so the extra mileage does not cover the extra expense.

    And for one in my life, I can say literally — your mileage may vary.

    -Shawn

  8. HowlingCicada says:

    Would you like to hear from a car-hating non-Republican who generally agrees with the “alleged human effect on climate change?”

    I totally agree with Hasso. Ethanol (especially corn-based) is a politically-motivated fraud.

 

 
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