Friday, April 6, 2012

Make you own 'Bioethanol' and generate your own 'Biogas'

We live in a technological world where fuel and power play a critical role in shaping our lives and building our nations. The growth of a nation is measured in terms of fuel and power usage; yet there are many challenges and uncertainties in fuel supply and power generation technologies in recent past due to environmental implications. Fossil fuels accelerated our industrial growth and the civilization. But diminishing supply of oil and gas, global warming, nuclear disasters, social upheavals in the Arabian countries, financial problems, and high cost of renewable energy have created an uncertainty in the energy supply of the future. The future cost of energy is likely to increase many folds yet nobody knows for certain what will be the costs of energy for the next decade or what will be the fuel for our cars. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind seem to be getting popular among people but lack of concrete Government plans and financial incentives for renewable, are sending mixed signals for investors. Recently number of solar industries in Germany are facing bankruptcy due to withdrawal of Government subsidies. Wind energy in India has got a setback due to withdrawal of Government financial support. Renewable industries are at their infant stages of growth both technologically and financially. These industries will face a natural death in the absence of Government supports and incentives. Individuals, small businesses and industries are unable to plan their future due to above uncertinities.In a globalised world such problem have to be tackled jointly and collectively. But that too looks unlikely due to ideological, political and social differences between countries. In the absence of any clear path forward, a common man is left with no alternative but find solutions for himself. Individuals can form small groups to produce their own fuel and generate their own power. There has never been a right moment in our history for such ventures. It can be easily done by people from rural areas especially in farming communities. They can set an example and rest of the country can follow. This will also help preventing mass migration from rural areas to cities, especially in China and India. They neglect their farms and migrate to cities to work in electronic industries for a better life. The farming communities can form groups and generate their own ‘Biogas’ or ‘Bioethanol’ from a common facility to fuel their cars and power their homes without any Government incentives and political interefernces.Making ‘Bioethanol’ from cane sugar molasses, beet sugar, corn, tapioca or sorghum on a small or medium scale is a straight forward method. Fermentation and distillation is a well known technology. It is controlled by Government excise departments for revenue purpose but Government can certainly allow farms or individuals to make their own ‘Bioethanol’ for their cars. Farms can generate their own 'Biogas’ from manure, agriculture wastes, food waste and waste water treatment facilities and generate their own power and supply biogas for heating and cooking for their communities. Governments should allow people to make their own choices and decisions instead of controlling everything, especially when they are unable to solve a problem. Countries like India should encourage farming communities in groups to set up their own ‘Bioethanol’ and ‘Biogas’ plants and allow import of flex-fuel cars for Ethanol blends of various proportions. Alcohol has been a a’taboo’in many countries for several years but with current uncertainties with supply of fuel and power, Government can certainly remove such ‘taboo’ by highlighting the value of ‘Bioethanol as a source of fuel.Goevernments can forgo their excise revenue by allowing people to make their own fuel. Alternatively, they should provide incentives and subsidies for renewable energy developments. They cannot refuse both and still hope to continue in power because people will sooner or later throw them out of power. After all Governments are elected by people to address their problems.